Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

I don’t want to get lynched for saying this but I’ve never read Joe Kelly’s modern day classic comic series I Kill Giants.  I am aware of the title, aware of how good it is said to be, and aware of all the accolades that have been showered upon the series across its publication history.  I have nothing really to say except I really dropped the ball on that one.

I had no clue that an I Kill Giants film was being made so I was quite surprised when I was looking through releases on iTunes and came upon the film.  Not only was there an I Kill Giants movie, but it was already shot, edited, and put together for me to watch.  I watched the trailer and really liked what I saw.  So I did the smart thing.  I rented the movie right then, kicked back, and watched the flick.

Directed by Academy Award winner Anders Walter from a screenplay written by Joe Kelly, the film follows a young, independent teenager named Barbara (Madison Wolfe) who is basically an outcast in her town.  Barbara is bright, sarcastic, and a very weird girl.  She wears battered bunny ears and roams her town thinking that she defends it from giants.  Not pretend giants.  Real and actual giants who would do Barbara, her family, and her town harm.

Is Barbara a whackjob?  A precocious girl with an active imagination?  A young teenager who really is the only defense against nasty giants who want to slaughter an entire town?  These are the questions we ask ourselves as we get to know this young girl.  Barbara’s life and eccentricities are presented to the audience thanks to two new people that come into her life.  One is the new school psychologist named Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), who tries to have Barbara explain her world, how she’s feeling, and what may be reality vs. fantasy.

The other character is a new girl at school named Sophia (Sydney Wade) who takes a somewhat liking to Barbara.  She’s not quite sure of what to make of Barbara and her wild stories of giant killing but, thanks to Sophia, Barbara tells and shows the viewer what exactly she does to protect her town from the attacking giants.

There’s some deepness to this tale as we learn that Barbara is being raised by her older sister Karen (Imogen Poots) while her mother wastes away from a horrible illness.  As we get further into the film the viewer starts to look at some of the dots and connect some of the plots together.  Some of it makes sense.  Some of it still made no sense to me once the movie was over.  But overall I found that this quirky teenaged giant killer was someone I wanted to spend 100 minutes with, even if her entire story arc didn’t come together for me in the end.

The film is more story driven and not so much with the massive special effect monster fights.  That isn’t to say that there aren’t actual giants in this film because what fun would it be if there weren’t giants?  They showed the giants right in the trailer so we all know they were going to be in the film.  It’s just for the audience to decide whether these giants are good, evil, or if they even exist at all.

The film rests firmly on the shoulders of 14 year old actress Madison Wolfe.  You had to feel that Wolfe’s character was tough, fearless, sad, and possibly a little crazy.  Wolfe was able to present all of these emotions with ease and really sold Barbara’s character overall.  It’s a wonderful performance from Wolfe, who had already proved her acting chops with her role in The Conjuring 2 where she played a girl possessed by a demon.

The film could be a bit slow at times and, at the end, I was still unsure of some of the events in the film meant.  I don’t feel like the filmmakers were able to fully explain the deeper meaning behind the film or perhaps I am way too daft to figure it all out myself.  On this I’m not too sure.  My plan is to now read the entire I Kill Giants series and then go back to watch the film adaptation again.  Maybe I’ll figure it all out after I do both those things.

The flick is produced by Chris Columbus – known for directing films like Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter films.  I felt that Columbus let Anders Walter really make a wonderful dark film, one that really doesn’t have a pleasant and uplifting spirit (like most of Columbus’ films).  I Kill Giants can be a downer and really makes you feel what it can be like to be a young bullied girl shunned by her community.  I would think this film could be a perfect gateway for teenage girls to find some new comics as Barbara is a powerful protagonist that may lead young female viewers to the local comic store to read the source material.

Overall I enjoyed the film though I’ll reiterate that I found it to be a bit slow at times.   I Kill Giants was truly one of the better films from last year based on an independent comic, up there with My Friend Dahmer and way above films like Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Atomic Blonde.  I Kill Giants is really worth the watch, especially for fans of comic book films and those who want to see a strong female protagonist that doesn’t have to conform to conventional norms.

RATING: A-

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