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In 'I Kill Giants,' battling behemoths is nothing compared with the angst of tween life

In 'I Kill Giants,' battling behemoths is nothing compared with the angst of tween life
Madison Wolfe in the movie "I Kill Giants." (RLJE Films)

It seems like in movies of the ’80s and ’90s, children were much more willing to embrace the darker parts of childhood. “I Kill Giants” feels like a throwback to those kinds of films, filled with imagination and monsters in a tale of good vs. evil.

Director Anders Walter won an Oscar in 2014 for his live-action short, “Helium,” and his feature debut “Giants” is assured, compelling filmmaking, with a complex performance by Madison Wolfe in the leading role as the killer of said giants.

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Writer Joe Kelly adapted his graphic novel, the story of a young girl, Barbara (Wolfe), who grapples with the complications of life by preparing to do battle with mythical giants and titans that threaten her tiny Jersey Shore town. With her ubiquitous bunny ears and glasses, Barbara cuts a memorable figure, even if she proves to be a pretty prickly character.

Things aren’t really all right at home, a chaotic, seaswept house run by her overextended older sister Karen (Imogen Poots). At school, Barbara clashes with everyone from the mean girls to the psychologist (Zoe Saldana), obsessively mounting her traps and collecting her tools for fighting giants.

Like its heroine, “I Kill Giants” isn’t afraid to tackle the darkness or rage of little girls, or their fear and pain. Barbara’s seeming fantasy is real, a demon that she has to find the strength within herself to slay. Walter brings a sense of the epic to Kelly’s uniquely sensitive story that bravely faces down the good and the evil that exists within us all.

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‘I Kill Giants’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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