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I Kill Giants (2017)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/22/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/9/2018
Symbolism plays a huge role in many forms of art and it's often the object of a great deal of debate. For some who partake in movies, books, and paintings, the real story lies beneath the surface, and these individuals believe that the artist masked their true intentions. Of course, there is also the chance that a story is just a story and those looking for something deeper or more involved are simply fooling themselves. In many fantasy films, symbolism plays a role in that it represents something else -- something which is integral to the plot, but must remain hidden. Symbolism abounds in I Kill Giants, but it also keeps the film from being fully-formed.
Barbara (Madison Wolfe) lives is a large house, which lies beside a lonely stretch of beach. Her older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), looks after her, as her parents are not around. Barbara is an unusual girl, as she wears bunny ears on her head, carries a purse which is emblazoned with a lightning bolt, and sets traps around the area to catch giants. Barbara is convinced that giants are everywhere and they are always poised to attack. When Sophia (Sydney Wade) moves to the area, she attempts to befriend Barbara, and quickly learns about the girl's odd behavior. This behavior has also been noticed by Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), the school psychologist, who attempts to help Barbara. But, this girl is determined to fight her battles alone.
I Kill Giants is based on a graphic novel written by Joe Kelly and illustrated by Ken Niimura. However, the movie reminded me of a novel novel, namely Bridge to Teribithia. Both stories feature a pre-adolescent who feels distant from their family and escapes into a world of make-believe. (Yes, I know that Bridge to Teribithia featured two pre-adolescents, but that's beside the point.) And both stories show just how real these worlds can be to the protagonist, so real that they can get lost in them.
But, there is one huge difference. The main characters in Bridge to Teribithia were likable, and many young readers wanted to join them in their magical adventures. In I Kill Giants, we are saddled with a main character in Barbara who is off-putting from the outset. We do eventually learn that there is a lot going on in her life, which may or may not justify her behavior, but her mannerisms and attitude really put the audience at arm's length. This is a gigantic (no pun intended) problem, as, for the movie to work, we have to get behind Barbara and we must want to see her story through to the end. Instead, the movie presents us with a main character who pushes everyone around her away, especially those who attempt to be nice to her, and the viewer gets pushed away right along with them.
If you can make it to the third act of the film, then you will encounter the film's symbolism and learn the true meaning of the giants...and you'll probably emit a small, "oh", as you realize that things aren't as grandiose as the movie would want us to believe. Yes, the story becomes quite heavy here, but it's oddly unemotional, as the twist is somewhat surprising, but it's also the most obvious thing that it could possibly be. This turn would have been much, much more touching if we had any sympathy for Barbara. It could easily be argued that Barbara's behavior is realistic given the situation, but in order for a movie like this to work, a small bit of reality must be traded for appealing characters.
It's very easy to compare I Kill Giants to 2016'sA Monster Calls, as the stories and subject matter is very similar. However, A Monster Calls is a much better movie. Not just because it clearly has a bigger budget and features some known actors, but because we don't mind taking the journey with the main character, even though he's just as despondent as Barbara. I Kill Giants wants to be a study of how humans will go to great lengths in order to escape from a bad situation, but the result is a movie from which you'll want to flee.
I Kill Giants also wants to be about baseball but somewhat fails on that front on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of RLJE Films. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth works quite well here and the picture shows a nice amount of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is an interesting audio presentation, as most of the film is a drama, and therefore, we get pretty standard stereo and surround effects. The scenes in the school deliver some obvious audio from the front and rear channels. But, when Barbara encounters the giants, the track really comes to life, bringing us strong subwoofer effects and noteworthy surround sound action.
The I Kill Giants Blu-ray Disc contain a handful of extra features. "The Making of I Kill Giants" (6 minutes) is a brief featurette which offers clips from the film accompanied by comments from the cast and Director Anders Walter and graphic novel creators Writer Joe Kelly & Artist Ken Niimura. This also offers a few on-set shots. "Anatomy of a Scene" (5 minutes) takes us on-set to see how a big fight scene was done. The extras are rounded out by a "Photo Gallery" and images from the graphic novel.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long