I Kill Giants

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
I Kill Giants Movie Poster Image
Moody, intense graphic novel-based fantasy drama.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Touching messages about lengths people will go to to save people they love. Explores difficulty, complexity of grief and dealing with loss. Also promotes close sibling bonds, friends who care about you unconditionally. Empathy is a theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Barbara labeled as difficult -- and she's definitely impetuous and reckless -- but also courageous, feels things quite deeply. She wants to protect/defend people she loves, is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. Mrs. Molle is patient, caring, genuinely wants to support and encourage Barbara. Sophia cares about Barbara, is more patient and understanding than the other girls at Barbara's school, some of whom are downright cruel.

Violence

Lots of punching, slapping, kicking, and pushing between classmates. One girl bullies/hits another girl, who hits back. Barbara hits/slaps her counselor and even her friend. Close-up of gory scenes like a dead deer that's bloody and maggot-infested. Graphic, illustrated description of different kinds of giants and how dangerous they are. Scary sequence of Barbara battling the giant; also a big storm raging, with huge waves. Sad moments after a big revelation.

Sex

Teens discuss whether someone is "getting laid"/"doing it."

Language

Strong language is mostly insults and exclamations such as "bitch," "goddamn," "mental," "total d--ks," "what the hell," "damn," "ass," "s--t," "nerd," "crap," "Jesus!" "awkward freak."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Kill Giants is a fantasy/drama based on Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura's graphic novel of the same name. The story follows an 11-year-old girl named Barbara (Madison Wolfe) who believes not only that life-threatening giants exist, but that she alone is able to slay them. An emotional drama that's thematically similar to 2016's A Monster Calls, this adaptation explores themes of childhood grief, school bullying, and fantastical creatures that pose a threat to the main character. Expect several scenes of violence, from fistfights, bullying, and beatings to a gory close-up of a bloody dead animal and a destructive battle with a giant while a storm rages. Barbara also lashes out at a teacher (whom she slaps) and her lone true friend. There's some language (including "s--t" and "bitch") and moments that may be particularly difficult for families who've experienced loss and/or terminal illness.

User Reviews

Parent of a 4 and 7 year old Written bySarah S. May 11, 2018

Intensely emotional movie

This movie dealt with some very intense emotions, including some fairly violent bullying of middle schoolers and family loss and tragedy, and how a young girl d... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 9 year old Written bySusan R. May 14, 2018

Disappointed.

The trailer would make you think that the movie is full of action but most of the action is in the trailer. There is much more talking and kids punching each ot... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old May 14, 2018

Tricked

You are tricked if you watch the trailer. It looks like a great action movie but really, there is only some in the end. Plus there is lots of swears.
Teen, 14 years old Written byamirali_as83 June 11, 2018

What's the story?

I KILL GIANTS, based on the graphic novel by Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura, follows Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe), the youngest child in a family living through an initially unspecified traumatic crisis. Barbara, who's being cared for by her put-upon older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), during this hard time, believes that dangerous giants threaten humanity's existence and that she alone is capable of slaying them. Barbara struggles at school, where she's routinely bullied (both verbally and physically) by a vicious mean girl named Taylor (Rory Jackson). When Barbara befriends the new kid in town, Sophia (Sydney Wade), and starts meeting with new school counselor Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), she's finally forced to come to terms with the giants -- both what they represent and what they want.

Is it any good?

This fantasy drama is a well-acted, moving tale of how an imaginative girl handles life-changing family trauma. Barbara isn't a typical "likable" main character. She can be difficult, impetuous, and reckless -- but those character flaws add to her relatability. Wolfe does a fine job exposing Barbara's vulnerability, even as she seems sure she doesn't need anything or anyone. Audiences will care about her journey. Saldana, playing against type (she's usually a fierce heroine), is caring in her supporting role as Barbara's counselor. Poots is also noteworthy as Barbara's overwhelmed oldest sister, who has to watch over the younger siblings, keep house, and attempt to make a living.

Danish director Anders Walter sensitively captures the intense drama of dealing with anticipatory grief -- the knowledge that something so out of control is about to happen that fighting giants would be preferable to reality. There are a few minor missteps and a couple of performances that don't hit their marks (the bully, for example, overacts and isn't believable as a school's mean queen bee), but those bumps don't take away from the movie's emotional tipping point, where Barbara confronts her fear, finds her courage, and makes peace with the horrors she's had to face -- and the ones that may still lie ahead.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how violence is depicted in I Kill Giants. Is it necessary for the story? Why? Does fantasy violence have a different impact than realistic violence?

  • Is there a difference between how "difficult" girls are portrayed or perceived vs. how boys with the same attributes are? Discuss how gender plays a role in how people think about and judge personality.

  • Do you consider any of the characters role models? What are their character strengths?

  • How does the movie portray bullying? Does it seem realistic? How would you have responded in Barbara's situation?

  • For those familiar with the graphic novel: How faithful to the story do you consider the movie? Do you think it helps that the author wrote the screenplay adaptation? What are some of your favorite page-to-screen adaptations?

Movie details

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