A Giant Calls: A Review of "I Kill Giants"
Based on the hugely successful graphic novel that was published in 2008, the film adaptation of I Kill Giants is a meditative, nuanced coming-of-age study of grief, denial, and being different. As such, it shares much with the 2017 film A Monster Calls. While Monster by Patrick Ness was actually written after Giants, which was penned by Joe Kelly and Ken Nimura, Giants has a more contemporary feel—but that doesn’t necessarily make it more immediate or effective.
For the fans of the graphic novel, they were ecstatic about the near to faithful rendering of the film version. As the screenplay was written by Kelly himself, a lot of the dialogue was kept intact, as with the framing that mimicked the artwork as found in the book. Barbara’s (Madison Wolfe) sharp tongued demeanor came to life in such scenes as when she provokes her baseball P.E. instructor, or in her sessions with the school guidance counsellor, Mrs. Mollé (Zoe Saldana). Her quirky friendship with Sophia (Sydney Wade) and her fractured relationship with her sister Karen (Imogen Poots) are similar benchmarks that run a common thread between novel and film.
Not very likeable from the outset, for those unfamiliar with the book, Barbara may be something of a test for investing in the film’s main protagonist. And this is where the film falters in comparison to Monster Calls, where Lewis MacDougall’s Conor had a very expressive face and more sympathetic patina. Felicity Jones as the mother in Monster similarly makes more of an impression than the mother here in Giants. The seaside town location plays a part in the story’s development, reminiscent of the location in the film Manchester.
The film does have something to say about how a child will cope with grief, impending death of a loved one, and how all this impacts on the already confusing stage of adolescence; but in I Kill Giants, when the reveal does come, we’ve already expended much of the empathy we should be harbouring for Barbara.
Lead photo from ikillgiantsmovie