I Kill Giants was a limited series by Image Comics released in 2008, written by Joe Kelly, with art by J. M. Ken Niimura. The movie adaptation hits theaters this week.
Kelly has the luck of writing his own screenplay, and Oscar-winner Anders Walter directs his first feature-length film. Madison Wolfe stars as the lead Barbara Thorson with Zoe Saldana as the caring school psychologist Mrs. Mollé.
Barbara struggles through life by escaping into a fantasy life of magic and monsters.
The film has the feel of Bridge to Terabithia and/or The Boy Who Could Fly with mystical elements in a non-mystical world. What the film lacked was the feel of Goonies and/or Stranger Things, where all the kids involved are relatable and you gain attachment to the characters. Barbara is an awkward bad-ass in the vain of Dr. House, condescending brilliant. The emotional reveal is held until the very end, but the script never lets you in, and you feel detached from events. Even Mrs. Mollé and Barbara’s sister Karen are begging her to let someone in. Sophia, the new girl in town, is the film’s best chance at an everyman type of character. If the film was told from her point of view we might be having a different conversation, as the end of the film is an emotional battle reminiscent of Lieutenant Dan in the crow’s nest during the mighty storm.
Comic books and film are two different mediums with two different expectations. Comic books have an infinite production budget and readers are more willing to get lost in a book. Movies have finite budgets and it’s harder to persuade the suspension of disbelief in a viewer. Kelly put his vision out there, and you have to respect him for it. On the other hand, the film may have been best served with an outsider’s perspective on how to best convey the message.
By the look of the film and the angles of the camera, you can tell Walter has won an Oscar and has bright future behind the camera. He does his best to be true to Niimura’s artwork. From the close-ups to the wide angle of giants, Walter tries to create comic book style panels out of the film without being obvious.
Fans of the book will enjoy watching the magic unfold on the big screen. The message and visuals are strong, but the film is slightly off and loses that much-needed audience connection.
What did you think of the film adaptation of I Kill Giants? Comment below.