Movies reviewed this week: A Monster Calls, Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, and Long View: Monster Trucks (Jane Levy and Thomas Lennon).
A Monster Calls is a bittersweet coming-of-age movie in which 12-year-old Conor (played by newcomer Lewis MacDougall) is faced with a range of issues many boys his age never have to experience.
As Conor battles to deal with his beloved mother’s (Felicity Jones) terminal illness, he finds himself also being bullied at school. But after moving in with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver), Conor finds an unusual ally when the “Monster” (voiced wonderfully by Liam Neeson) appears at his bedroom window one evening.
What follows is a tale of courage, faith and truth, in which Conor must face his fears through both reality and his imagination.
Based on the book of the same name by Patrick Ness, who also wrote the screenplay, A Monster Calls is beautifully filmed, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from talented director J.A. Bayona (who also helmed the Spanish thriller The Orphanage).
Within a dark and Gothic plot, the animatronics behind the Monster are impressive, and Neeson shines in his role while the dulcet tones of his baritone voice are a perfect match for his character.
MacDougall is a rising star and plays Conor with an emotional maturity beyond his years. As he is reminded in the film, he’s “a boy too old to be a kid; too young to be a man” and while this might be right to a point, the chain of events in the story put him well on the way to growing up very quickly – despite his age. Bring the tissues for this one, as the ending may very well have you in tears.
Review by Felicity Glover
With this, the long-awaited sequel to the 2007 animated comedy, it’s a little disconcerting to discover that Surf’s Up 2 has gone straight to DVD and VOD in the US. However, fans can catch the movie on the big screen in Oman. We pick up the story of penguin Cody Maverick, who joins a new crew of surfers – all of them voiced by WWE superstar wrestlers, including John Cena, Undertaker, Triple H, Paige and Vince McMahon. This is definitely one for the kids although it’s probably a better idea to watch it on the small screen at home.
The third movie in the XXX franchise, Xander Cage is back to his fighting best despite being left for dead in XXX: State of the Union. But we have to say that audiences have waited a long time for this sequel – 12 years to be exact. We pick up the story with Cage (played by Vin Diesel) coming out of exile to take on a dangerous, new assignment, led by his handler Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson). What follows is a thrilling adventure full of explosions, gun battles, and extreme stunts – watch out for the thrilling skateboarding scene – as Cage races against time to find a deadly weapon known as Pandora’s Box.
From the director of Ice Age comes Monster Trucks – a rollicking ride that will appeal to tweens and teens thanks to its fun story, great stunts and interesting animatronics. Lucas Hill is high school senior Tripp, who is desperate to escape from his small-town life. His passion is monster trucks and he builds one from scratch. Along the way he meets a strange subterranean creature who has a serious need for speed. The two become friends and that’s where the adventure starts. Also starring Jane Levy and Thomas Lennon, this is a must-see for the kids.
Oman release date: January 26