I Kill Giants Review
The worlds of childhood imagination that we build when we are young can be a refuge in our lives from the harder things that we may not be able to face. I Kill Giants, based on a graphic novel by Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura (Kelly also wrote the screenplay), blurs the line between the two, and does so in a way that is fascinating, sad, sometimes funny, moving, and all the way through overflowing with creativity.
Barbara (Madison Wolfe) is a strange girl that doesn’t fit in with the world around her. This doesn’t bother her, even as new-in-town Sophia (Sydney Wade) attempts to reach out to her, because Barbara has a mission in life: to hunt the giants that threaten her hometown and defeat them. Something that strikes you after watching I Kill Giants is that it would make a wonderful double feature with J.A. Bayona’s 2016 fantasy A Monster Calls, albeit a double feature that might play your heartstrings like a guitar. The two are almost like sibling movies; both deal with young socially ostracised and creative individuals dealing with difficult personal situations through the lens of these gargantuan creatures.
Whilst both approach the nature of said creatures slightly differently, A Monster Calls’ monster is threatening but with an air of omnipresent guidance, while the giants of this film are purely set out as antagonists that need to be battled. The end effect and meaning, however, is quite similar; that of growing as a person and understanding certain things that the characters could not face before. The giants, real or not, are the obstacles in one’s life, and either way there are something that Barbara must find the strength within herself to face. It’s a strong metaphor, especially for a young person.
As Barbara, our would-be giant killer, Madison Wolfe, who is unrecognisable from her role in The Conjuring 2, absolutely knocks it out of the park, showing all shades of the character and her worldview. She is very isolated by her nature and her interests in things like Dungeons and Dragons, but she also believes wholeheartedly in her mission all the while while going through some very complex situations emotionally which Wolfe conveys so sincerely and beautifully. Barbara is a little rough around the edges, but her friendship with Wade's Sophia in particular is sweet in its tentative shyness.
Ultimately, Barbara is a character that will feel very true to many people who have been the weird social outcast in their youth. She is supported by the always solid Imogen Poots - who plays her older sister Karen, and is attempting to hold the family together - and Zoe Saldana as school counsellor Mrs. Mollé, who wants to understand the goings on in Barbara’s head and help her face her situation. The movie also looks beautiful. The scenery is hazy and mysterious and so unlike what you might associate with the Northeast American coastline.
I Kill Giants is a charming and emotionally satisfying fantasy drama. It’s not perfect, but it’s a film that with leave you with a smile on your face albeit a bittersweet one.