A Monster Calls doesn’t quite hold up to similar movies about children processing difficulty through imagination (including Steven Spielberg’s The BFG from the same year), but there are some arresting creative flourishes here, as well as enough genuine emotion to forgive the more maudlin touches. Adapted by Patrick Ness from his own novel and directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible), the movie centers on a young boy named Conor (Lewis MacDougall) whose single mother (Felicity Jones) is dying of cancer. A budding illustrator, Conor imagines a towering tree monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) who visits from the nearby graveyard to share stories and eventually persuade Conor to tell his own. The CGI animation involving the monster is fairly standard fare (he looks like an Etsy Transformer; less metal, more wood), and pales in comparison to the animated segments used to dramatize his tale. Rendered in watercolor-like brushstrokes, they bring to mind the hand-drawn elegance of The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and are easily the highlights of the movie.