I Kill Giants (2017)

One from the to watch pile…

I Kill Giants (2017)

Film: Having a site called ‘The To Watch Pile’ means I need to make sure I watch as many new films as possible… well, not necessarily ‘new’ but certainly ones I haven’t seen before. My ACTUAL to-watch pile is ridiculously large and is spread across my house, filling a footrest and a whole cabinet under my TV. I know that a lot of this is going to be pretty awful, and as a devout movie fan. I’m happy to torture myself with silly stuff. I also know that occasionally I’m going to find a gem amongst the manure.

.. and this is one of them.

I Kill Giants was written by Joe Kelly and is based on the limited series comic made by him along with Ken Niimura which was published by Image Comics between 2008 and 2009. It was directed by Anders Walter, who win an Academy Award for his 2013 short film Helium.

I Kill Giants tells of 12 year old Barbara (Madison Wolfe), an extraordinarily strange girl who walks to the beat of her own drum, resisting normalcy no matter what her sister, Karen (Imogen Poots) asks if her, no matter what the school psychologist, Mrs. Mollé (Zoe Saldana) says and especially no matter what school bully, Taylor (Rory Jackson) does to her, and she seems to have an incredible strength that rises her above all this.

This is because Barbara has a secret: she is the sole defence for her town against the constant threat of giants. Giants that no one else can see.

Barbara has covered the town with protective runes, and has many wards and symbols that help her in her goal, and she also enlists new neighbour Sophie (Sydney Wade), but this causes a problem… Sophie can’t see what it is that Barbara says she can, and is concerned that perhaps Barbara isn’t quite mentally well, and maybe that disbelief will cause Barbara to lose her powers against the giants…

An ambiguous synopsis? You better believe it. Honestly I’ve watched the film twice as of this writing and I am still not quite sure if Barbara can see these mythical creatures or not, and I think that perhaps that ambiguity really makes the film something special.

It’s not just the ambiguity of Kelly’s script though, it’s also the acting skill of the cast, both the established older actors and the children. This whole film hangs on the talent of Wolfe and she not only rises to the occasion, she nails every scene she is in. In particular, there is one scene where she is being challenged by the psychologist and goes from distracted to tears no naturally it’s astounding.

The other small rise to the occasion too. You forget that Saldana has amazing talent now that she is a blockbuster sweetheart, and I have to say her characters husband is played by Noel Clarke was a nice surprise, me being a Doctor Who fan. Imogen Poots also kicks goals with her role as the sister who is trying to keep her family together after a family tragedy (which is an underlying theme of the plot) and her frustrations are almost palpable.

Walter has created a beautifully designed film too. The constant dark and oppressive sky doesn’t just set a tone of potential danger, and reflect Both Barbara’s real and fantastic situations, it also acts as somewhat of a cover for the films giants, which beautifully fit into the landscape.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this film, and I have to say I was surprised by what I did get: an engaging quasi-fantasy film that played an amazing song upon my heartstrings.

Score: ****

Format: This film was reviewed on the Umbrella Entertainment R4 NTSC DVD which runs for approximately 106 minutes. It is presented in 2.35:1 image which is great, and a decent audio, running on Dolby 5.1. I did have the sound lose sync on two occasions, but I have been assured by Umbrella Entertainment that this has not been a common complaint.

Score: ****

Extras: Seems to be a common thing with Umbrella DVDs these days, but no extras.

Score: 0

WISIA: I did enjoy this film, very much, but I think it would lose some of its magic with a rewatch, so I thunk I’ll leave it where it is.

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) Review

One from the re-watch pile…
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

 

FilmAs a teenager, in addition to horror movies, I loved fantasy and science fiction. Of course Star Wars and it’s sequels were high on the list, as were the Conan movies, but I also was a fan of the second tier films of those genres. I love the cheapo rip offs that Roger Corman gave us like Battle Beyond the Stars, and I especially loved ANY fantasy film I could get my grubby little hands on.

There is not much in fantasy films for a teenage boy not to like: adventurous stories (like those in the Dungeons and Dragons games we played), muscular heroes we aspired to be, bodacious busty babes we aspired to have fawning over us, a cache of weapons at our disposal and best of all, gigantic mythical beasts to either ride, or fight.

This was the first feature for Albert Pyan, who most action film fans will appreciate the name of, even though he did give us the awful Arcade (1993) and made a horrible attempt at a Captain America film in 1990, starring Matt Salinger, as a genre legend who has been in the industry for over 30 years, making enjoyable schlocky indie action films that are a blast to watch. Pyun also co-wrote the script for this film with one-and-done writers John Stuckmeyer and Tom Karnowski, both of whom had other careers in film, but not in the writing department.

Our story begins with Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) employing the skills of sorcerer Xusia (Richard Moll) so he can overrun a kingdom he has previously been unable to conquer.


Of course, because he is played by Richard Lynch, Cromwell turns on the sorcerer once his employ has been finalized and his army is seemingly unstoppable… but is it?

The son of the King, Talon (played as a boy by James Jarnigan, but eventually by Lee Horsley) is issued a three bladed sword by his father King Richard (Christopher Cary) which he is supposed to use to defend his mother should the king fall in battle.

The king does fall and Talon has to go into hiding, and avoids capture by Cromwell, eventually becoming a mercenary and upon the 11th anniversary of Cromwell’s victory, begins a campaign to reclaim his heritage… 


This film has all the trappings of fantasy films and follows the formula to a T, but its a formula that obviously works as many films have done it ever since… realistically its the hero’s journey formula, so not just fantasy films use it: most films with action as their base use it.

The Sword and the Sorcerer uses it well though and the warriors are tough, but human, with just a touch of scoundrel thrown in. In the post Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars world in which this exists, that’s not surprising.

The action is occasionally hokey but has a ridiculous charm to it, and the acting is pure over-dramatized to the point its almost parody, but it sits perfectly with the confines of the film.

The actors chosen aren’t just the musclebound oafs that fantasy eventually promoted, and are far more in the tune of finely honed athletes, and the women are all beautiful: lucky for fantasy lands the dental plans are amazing.


I couldn’t continue with mentioning how awesome the score is too. Written by David Whitaker, it is a bombastic as one would expect a fantasy film of its ilk should be. I have it on vinyl and it gets a regular spin at my place… I certainly feel more heroic whilst doing the dishes when its on.

For me this is a perfect example of fantasy and I really enjoy watching it still after all these years.

Score: ****


Disc: This review was performed on the Australian release, region 4 DVD and runs for approximately 96 minutes. The film is presented in 16×9 widescreen and at best is an image that barely rises above VHS which is a shame. The soundtrack however is presented in either Dolby 2.0 or 5.1 and sounds just fine. I cant give this disc a high score though as the image is quite nasty.

Score: **

Extras: There’s a couple of extras on this. 

First we have  two theatrical trailers and one TV spot, the funny thing about the trailers is the first one has gore and blood and boobs in it, and the second is a more ‘G’ (or maybe in those days ‘NRC’) rated event, with no blood, and the harem girl scene has all the women suddenly with clothes…BOOOOO HISSSSS!

There is a commentary by director Albert Pyun and host Chris Gore which nicely discusses the making of this film and the trials to make it. Its a great commentary which has a nice flow and is fascinating.

Also on this disc we have trailers for The Beastmaster, Barbarian Queen and The Perils of Gwendoline, all of which I’d watch without a second thought!

Score: ***

WISIA: I’ve watched it a hundred times and I’ll watch it a hundred more!