I Kill Giants creates a fantastical world that should be immersive. Its choice to meld fantasy with the real world so seamlessly is an interesting one. Unfortunately, the delivery of the story combined with bad characterization creates such a crucial blow for I Kill Giants, that it becomes almost impossible for me to get on its side. If you are going to get anything at all from I Kill Giants, it would be its reference quality Video Transfer and immersive audio mix. Give it a Rent.
With the seemingly infinite interest in comics and graphic novels, I feel like it is often forgotten how much a character must be changed to bring them to the big screen. Wolverine, for instance. In book form, he is a five-foot, two-inch berserker, who doesn’t think twice about tussling with anyone. On the big screen, he is the strong silent type that oozes charisma, while also being about a foot taller. While the essence of Wolverine remains, the changes allowed for the character to be more accessible to the audience. Ergo, one of the most beloved Fox-owned characters was born.
I Kill Giants was also based on a seven-issue run written by Joe Kelly and published by Image Comics in 2008. It has a similar tone, and as far as I can tell (I have only heard a short synopsis of the material), it is a fairly faithful adaptation. Barbara (Madison Wolfe) is a young teenager that lost her parents through a series of tragic events, and her big sister Karen (Imogen Poots) is the sole provider for Barbara and her brother Dave (Art Parkinson). Everyone deals with loss in their own way, and in Barbara’s case, she chooses to immerse herself in a Dungeons and Dragons-esque world battling giants and other creatures. She believes in this world so much she believes her creations are part of our world and only she has the gift to see them. This causes her to come across as rude, in the best scenario, or, at the worst, dangerous, because of her obsession with the world of giants and demons.
Which brings me to my first problem. As I understand it, her flippant nature toward the rest of the world is taken straight from the miniseries, but it makes Barbara an amazingly unlikable character despite being made fun of and picked on. However, Barbara isn’t left completely alone to fend for herself. A school therapist, Ms. Molle (Zoe Saldana), and a new kid in school, Sophia (Sydney Wade), are sympathetic to her issues, and yet, there are multiple instances where Barbara not only ridicules, but straight up threatens the two of them, which makes Barbara an irredeemable character in my mind. This type of character may work in book form. But in a film, watching a teenage girl act out in this way only serves to make her unsympathetic no matter the circumstances.
I Kill Giants seamlessly integrates its real and fantasy world, making it harder to know when you are going to see what Barbara sees. It is an effective device that is more immersive than its advertising would have you think. It allows us to see the world exactly how she sees it and helps to give a reason to her behavior. Unfortunately, it is not an excuse. The fact of the matter is, other than making changes to soften Barbara’s character, I don’t see any other way of putting us on her side. In the end, I Kill Giants has visual style to spare but a distant lead character that makes this adaptation an otherwise unpleasant, and frustrating watch.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Image Entertainment brings I Kill Giants to Blu-ray with a bare bones release that leaves much to be desired. We are given a slip cover to hard cover packaging. Enclosed lies a single layer BD-25 disc and that is it. No DVD or Digital Download on this release. Once popped in, we are presented with the usual skippable trailers that bring us to the main menu where we can navigate from there.
I Kill Giants throws a magic potion at us and gives us a 1080P MPEG-4 AVC encode transfer that is the reason to see the film. Framed at a 2.39:1 aspect ratio, while digital intermediate is unclear, this was all shot digitally using Ari Alexa cameras and it shows. This is a gorgeous transfer that has all the markings of reference quality material. Black levels, specifically shadow detail, are the star of the show here. The demons and giants that appear have deep inky black levels to them, but still have amazing detail. At times, this is set at night in low lighting areas, and still, every shred of every demon is visible without any shadow protrusion. Detail is also stellar here with not only the CGI creations but the atmosphere and smaller details that make Barbara’s world feel lived in. Her house, for instance, is so worn down with wear and tear that it speaks to the hard times her family has fallen upon. Colors are bold and vibrant with sunlight, green grass, and earth tones popping out of the screen. I said this in the section above, but I wanted to reiterate that I love the melding of the real world and Barbara’s CGI demon she has created in her mind. It is absolutely seamless, and it adds the feeling of her being a deeply confused character that cannot separate fact from fiction. That is why this is reference quality material in my mind. Not only is it gorgeous to look at, but it aids the storytelling.
I Kill Giants slays your home theater with a powerful DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Atmosphere is the clear stand out, with wind and trees blowing in your surrounds, it creates immersion while at the same time feeling wide and expansive. Field of sound is also wide and expansive, feeling like you are in a forest or at a beach with the characters. The LFE channel is no slouch either, offering immersive bass response, particularly during moments with the creatures, giving them a sense of scale and weight. Dialogue is crystal clear, and overall, levels are more than generous. This is the kind of track that reminds me why I love reviewing audio mixes. You don’t need a big budget to get the effect you need. Just a little TLC, and a clear vision of what is needed for the project. This isn’t quite reference-quality material, but it is the next best thing.
The Making of I Kill Giants (HD 5:39) - The typical introduction to the film that also serves as an introduction to the graphic novel.
I Kill Giants Graphic Novel: Chapter 1 - A great feature that looks at the first chapter of the graphic novel as it appears on the page.
Anatomy of a Scene (4:52) - A look at the stunts, effects, and CGI that went into the final battle of the film.
With I Kill Giants I am reminded of something a professor said during one of my college classes. He said “Books. They are just words on a page. They can all be adapted.” I strongly disagreed with that statement when I first heard it, and still do today. There are characters that we can put up with in book form that when we see on screen, we would turn against. It is fine that Barbara is an unsympathetic character on the page, but on the big screen, she becomes toxic. With the way she is presented here, I will be honest: I wouldn’t be sympathetic toward her even with the tragedy. If you are watching I Kill Giants at all, it is because of the reference quality Video Transfer, and the immersive audio mix that bumps this release to a Give it a Rent, as I actually feel like any streaming service would be the perfect home for I Kill Giants.