I Kill Giants (2017)
From the producers of Harry Potter
Occasionally you see a title and a trailer and think "well, this could be fun." Honestly, it happens more often than not for me, but in this case I had a few reservations. Of course, nothing that was going to stop me from watching the movie in the slightest - simply an observational wariness based on past experiences. In this movie pitched as a kid versus giants, there would be a statistical lean towards the giants not actually being physically real giants. The most recent film to actually deliver on a premise such as making a monster real in a way that the lead believing in them wasn't just imaginative or crazy I believe for me was Trollhunter, and that was at this point eight years ago. Still, make-believe or not I'm promised a girl fighting giants, and as this disc spins up I'm hoping it's not a case of "the bigger they are."
As one might expect, the movie does exactly the norm when it comes to this sort of thing - in which you tiptoe around the fact of "are giants real or not." Largely, it would be easier to argue that no, they do not and pull support from the movie. On the other hand, they leave plenty enough vague in a manner that someone could argue that, despite no being the more logical assumption surely these scenes or moments totally support that they are. I'm going to be real here - the larger case here is that it doesn't really matter whether they are or not, and in a way it's frustrating that the movie doesn't make a stand in either direction since you know it's going to be a major lock-up point for a viewer that will somehow give them a reason to complain about things. As far as I'm concerned they exist to us the viewer, so they may as well exist in the movie's reality whether it's all in a girls head or not.
After this, the story isn't really all that way out there. Yes, the giant elements are more fantastical, but at the same time this isn't unheard of for this type of a film either - where someone is trying to cope or grasp something, and in turn they embark on some kind of over-fantasized quest or color-grade their reality to help. There's parts of this rendition that do somewhat strike a chord with me personally - the use of monsters and myths, and to some extent even Dungeons and Dragons in it's super generalized and non-licensed glory - just as much as some it doesn't. A few people might actually find this one a bit challenging to follow, as the actual proverbial "cause" of things isn't even revealed until the end, and although slightly hinted at in various moments is never done in such a manner that you feel like there's such a thing to even guess at the start. Of course, couple this with all the scenes devoted to showing you how real these giants are in the first place, and I can see a lot of people who get hung up on simple things in movie having a very hard time following this movie.
On the bright side though, the actors do a pretty good job. The friend/sidekick character does a rather alright if not middling job as well as the brother character (who gets less screen time). Beyond those characters however, the main, her sister, the school shrink and even the bully do a great job. Yes, the bully is super stereotypical, and the sister feels as though she's not in a bunch of the movie for movie-provided reasons, but when the vast majority of the film is spent with the main character it's nice to have at least that performance done well. Add to it that a good number of them are younger actors to begin with, and it's pretty impressive job - or at the very least passable for enjoyment.
The movie is also shot quite nicely. There are plenty of moments of impressive framing in a shot, or nice steady shots that cut between far and closer without missing a beat or coming off as over-done. Many of the scenes can even come off as colorful as well, bringing it into a realistic feeling place even when the tone shifts to darker and the world reflects it. Granted, there's also a scene or two where all spacial sense gets lost - mainly thinking of the train giant fight, where I seriously thought the train that just went flying was the one inhabited by the girl until she hops back in surprise and it dawned on me that it was the train behind her that got booted. There's also a few moments where it's unclear how much time has passed, but largely the editing is well done.
The effects department is a more sordid affair unfortunately. During the first leg of things, I was constantly having my expectations lowered, finding giants lacking in both movement and level of quality. As the movie went on however, I start seeing things that look far better, impressive in scale and believable in movement. At one point, I was even questioning myself if it might have been a practical suit with some computer touch ups added in - although that was largely on a smaller scale creature and not a big old giant beast. The movie also does something rather generic in the costume department - in which the same characters wear the same outfits apparently everyday in this movie, until the character shift happens at the end to warrant a change of attire as though to point out "look, this character has changed!"
Audio-wise things are clear and understandable. The subtitles took the time to actually inform me of what song was playing as they happened (at least in a non-movie score fashion), and although I did find some of the timing amusing (a song by or named something to do with London after being introduced to a recently moved British character), I couldn't really tell if it was done in an intentional fashion or more chosen for the flow or enjoyment of the song over something as silly as a naming joke. There also is a few moments of humor in the movie as well, although as usual mileage will vary. I'm entertained by the "saving throw" joke, but also it goes a way to make the main character a bit unlikable for her attitude (or almost all the characters in the house at that point for that matter) when we still know so very little about any of them. By the end of the progression, I expect some would benefit from having a tissue box handy more from the serious drama affair than they would having emptied their bladders before hand to safeguard against laughter however.
This movie is a pretty decent flick. I honestly was hoping for a rather straightforward girl who battles giants movie, but my seasoned expectations had me prepared for the fact that although it's a part of the movie (maybe?) that it's also not really what the movie is about. The structure might be a little off at moments, but the flow of the movie is pretty solid and a good chunk of the actors do a good enough or better job to sell it all. I'd argue it's worth a rental for most people, unless they really don't like dramas or can't stand the relatively foreseeable plot strides as the story plays out.