Uncompromisingly dark melodrama about an adolescent
British boy (Lewis MacDougall) struggling to cope with a variety of problems,
the most dramatic being his mother's (Felicity Jones) impending death from
cancer. Coming to his "rescue" is a benevolent giant (voice of Liam
Neeson) formed from the bark and roots of the local graveyard's ancient yew
tree — and with a voice as deep as a coal mine. His new companion's centuries
of observing human behavior and ability to dispense slightly off-kilter fables
are supposed to bring the lad gruff instruction, if not exactly comfort. Though
it's based on Patrick Ness' award-winning 2011 children's novel, and scripted
by Ness himself, director J.A. Bayona's adaptation is not a film for kids. Even
many adults will find its mawkish treatment of death and its supply of blithe
"answers" to life's struggles difficult to handle. Probably
acceptable for mature teens.
Watch out for: Some
physical violence, several discussions of death, intense emotional scenes.
Rated: A-III, adults; MPAA: