I Kill Giants (2018)
We open up with Barbara (Madison Wolfe, a young girl, looking out at the countryside. We seed her riding her bike towards the woods, pulling behind her a wagon filled with stuff. She parks her bike by a tree and grabs a bottle full of red liquid. She finds some mushrooms growing in the forest and with a small knife, scrapes some fungus off the mushrooms and puts the scrapings into the bottle. She adds other ingredients to the bottle, including a yellow gummy bear. She shakes the bottle until she is startled by a noise. She gets up and hides behind a tree, peering around it to see what made the noise. Convinced that nothing is out there, she grabs her bike and begins traveling through the woods, pouring the red liquid onto plants and trees. There is a close-up of an owl, as a shadow moves across its face. A flock of birds flees the forest and then we see a giant hand, all leathery with claws, scrape some of the red liquid off of the tree. Barbara appears in the distance, as she has been spying on the tree, looking for the monster who just touched the red liquid.
We cut to the house where Barbara lives, and we see that she has been testing ‘Bait Juice” from a book she has, adding a check mark under the ‘red juice.’ Barbara is in a room that is filled with Knick Knacks and candles. She places a heart-shaped purse on the table in front of her and spreads some glitter on the purse. She kisses the purse and then says ‘Long be unbroken’ before blowing the glitter off the purse.
We see that Barbara’s house is right by a body of water. Inside, Barbara is playing Dungeons and Dragons by herself, while her sister, Karen (Imogen Poots) cooks dinner while talking on the phone. Barbara’s older brother is playing video games with two of his friends. Barbara asks them to be little quieter, and instead, they get louder, playing with more fervor. She rolls the dice on the table, visibly upset and then pulls the cord on the video game, turning it off. She tells her brother that the dice told her to do it. Karen brings dinner over to the table, and Barbara’s brother comes over, grabs the dice and smashes the dice into the skillet, splashing the dish over everything. Barbara’s brother and sister both angrily walk out of the room, leaving Barbara behind as she picks the dice out of the meal.
Barbara sits outside on the steps of her house, looking out at the sea as her sister comes down to sit by her. Karen tells Barbara that she would play the game with her if Barbara asked. Judging by how Barbara reacts, she knows that will never happen. Barbara pulls out a strange spyglass and studies the sky. She pans down to the water, and we see that something substantial under the sea is making unnatural waves happen. She changes a lens on the spyglass and looks to see that the waves have disappeared. Barbara steps inside the house and hears voices coming from upstairs. It is apparent that whoever is up there scares her, and Barbara rushes out of the room. Barbara goes down into the basement, where baseballs and a Phillies pennant hang on the wall. Barbara listens to an old tape recording of a baseball game. Barbara is sewing something on her heart-shaped purse when she accidentally sticks her finger with the needle, causing it to bleed. She spreads her blood onto the inside of the purse and begins a spell to give Barbara courage. What kind of battle is Barbara gearing up for and what was that thing out in the woods?
Director Anders Walter brings us a tale of a young woman battling giants; we just don’t know if those giants are real or inside Barbara’s head. Based on a graphic novel of the same name, I Kill Giants is a story about a troubled girl who believes that the town she lives in is being threatened by giants. Something happened in Barbara’s past that has caused her to retreat from everyday life and go into the fantasy world where Barbara believes that she is destined to battle a giant. Walter treats his subject with warmth and respect, letting us realize that yes, Barbara is an oddball and can be grating at times, but still making us root for her. Barbara. Walter and screenwriter Joe Kelly (who also co-wrote the graphic novel) has created a character in Barbara, who is fierce and determined, ready to do the task alone. It’s a magical world that Walter has created, and I especially enjoyed the buildup of the storyline, letting us get to know Barbara and her two worlds that make up her life. Aided by a score from composer Larent Perez Del Mar, it’s a rich landscape of a film that has a dark edge to it like there is always something that you can’t see waiting to cause problems.
The film is greatly aided by a strong and talented cast. Zoe Saldana plays the school psychologist who tries time after time to somehow understand why Barbara is the way she is. Saldana brings substance to the role, making her character one of the few people in the film that cares about Barbara, constantly reaching out to her. Sydney Wade plays Sophia, a new girl in town who befriends Barbara and even starts to buy into the idea that giants are threatening the town. The girls also take on a bully at school named Taylor (Rory Jackson). Wade plays off of Wolfe skillfully, and the two work well together on the screen. While not given much to do, Imogen Poots still puts a little life into the scenes she is in as the put-upon sister. Make no mistake about it; this is Madison Wolfe’s movie. Wolfe is in almost every scene, most of them by herself as Barbara battles through life. Wolfe is asked to play a multi-layered part, one that she excels at, giving Barbara life. Wolfe has a significant presence on the screen, and she is the focus of every scene that she is in. It’s a strong performance that Wolfe tackles with a fierceness, much like the character that she plays.
I Kill Giants is not your ordinary coming of age tale. My only quibble with the film is the ending to the film, which tries to wrap things up too neatly. Overall Anders Walter has given us a film that has some magical moments and a main character who is fascinating to watch. Be sure to see I Kill Giants in the theatre; it deserves the big screen. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
The film is playing in Atlanta exclusively at AMC Conyers Crossing 16
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