I Kill Giants
dir Anders Walter
scr Joe Kelly
prd Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Kyle Franke, Nick Spicer, Kim Magnusson, Adrian Politowski, Martin Metz, Joe Kelly
with Madison Wolfe, Zoe Saldana, Imogen Poots, Sydney Wade, Rory Jackson, Art Parkinson, Jennifer Ehle, Don Wycherley, Aideen Wylde, Noel Clarke, Sonya Kelly, Ben Carolan
release US 23.Mar.18, UK 6.Apr.18
17/Belgium 1h46
I Kill Giants
Saving the world: Wade and Wolfe

saldana poots sw
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
I Kill Giants Based on a series of graphic novels, this boldly well-made film taps meaningfully into a young teen's imaginative inner life. With his feature debut, Danish director Anders Walter assuredly blends the real and the fantastical, never talking down to children for a second. This is edgy, urgent and powerfully meaningful. And it takes us on a journey that's revelatory and exhilarating.

In a big house on Long Island, Karen (Poots) is struggling to take care of younger teen siblings who continually get on each others' nerves. To survive, 12-year-old Barbara (Wolfe) retreats into a fantasy world, where she feels it's her responsibility to protect the town from violent 30-foot monsters that are on the way. Then Sophia (Wade) turns up from England, and Barbara lets her in on her magical secrets. But Barbara feels increasingly isolated in what she sees as an urgent task. And no one understands.

Usually wearing rabbit ears, Barbara is a terrific character: a razor-sharp misfit who more than holds her own against adult condescension and a mean girl's (Jackson) bullying. The school therapist (Saldana) has no idea how to deal with her, but secretly admires her biting wit. Meanwhile, Sophia is dazzled by Barbara's imagination, as seen in vividly animated sequences. Meanwhile, director Walter inventively visualises scenes through Barbara's eyes, revealing the magic in subtle ways that draw the audience in deeper.

Wolfe works along with the filmmaker to take the audience right into the fantasy. It's clear that she's too smart to believe that these creatures are real, but living as if they are is what gives her the confidence to face daily life. Wolfe is superb as she interacts with other characters, injecting plenty of sass while keeping her emotions carefully concealed. Indeed, she's stronger than she thinks. Saldana and Poots are particularly strong as adults trying to understand her.

The story works as a particularly vivid parable. As Barbara explains, a giant is pure hate, and all it does is destroy everything in its path. For her, all of this world-threatening horror is all too real. But her efforts to vanquish giants are setting her at odds against people who are on her side. Even if screenwriter Kelly (adapting his own books) piles on far too much in the extended finale, there's something inspiring about seeing this young girl so bravely face her fears.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 3.Apr.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall