Shadow Of The Colossus

Potential SPOILERS for I Kill Giants. (but, seriously, you should have at least read the graphic novel by now)

I enjoyed the I Kill Giants miniseries from Image Comics when it came to my local comic book shop back in 2008. It was a good story about a young girl that was highly engaging and worked on multiple levels. Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura worked their magic on a story with soul. Almost a decade later, the movie is released based on the screenplay of the same Joe Kelly. So, I went into this movie viewing with some bias already in play.

I think it's fair to say that this may be my second favorite movie of the year so far.

I haven't seen A Wrinkle In Time yet and there are some MCU offerings still to go in this year, not to mention Deadpool 2 and, hopefully, a watchable film about Aquaman. That being said, this movie is more than likely going to remain at the top of my list until year's end.

I Kill Giants is the story of Barbara Thorson, a girl who lives in her own world of mythic battles with giants that she maintains are real. Barbara finds, hunts and kills giants to protect the people of her Long Island home from death and destruction. She spends most of her time going around her community laying bait, setting traps and placing wars against her gigantic enemies. She is a loner who lives in her head, even at home with her siblings. Barbara gains a friend in British transfer student Sophia and begins to see a school psychologist called Mrs. Molle. This is when her story begins to go into overdrive.

Our hero on the lookout.
The story presented in the movie is pretty much the same from the Image Comics version. There a few changes in the movie, like a lack of pixies, Barbara has less people she interacts with and her brother is more of a jerk. This makes Barbara Thorson's position seem more perilous and lonely. She is alone at home, at school and in her adventures in giant fighting. Barbara has built a world that no one else is allowed to enter and has walled herself off from a large portion of reality at this point. She is using her mission and role as self-appointed (or, in her head, divinely appointed) protector of her seaside town to insulate her from the things actually occurring in her life, from her sister's stress to her mother's condition.

This movie wouldn't work as well as it does without the pretty much perfect casting of the characters. Madison Wolfe IS Barbara Thorson and brings a sensitive side of her to life that isn't always easily translated in a comic book format. Her sister Karen, portrayed by Imogen Poots, is a much more harried character on film who is basically juggling many things to keep her family going. Sydney Wade makes the perfect young friend in Sophia and works well with Madison in almost the same way that Rory Jackson's Taylor, although physically different from her comic counterpart, works as the antagonist in this. And, finally, Zoe Saldana as Mrs. Molle gives weight to a former hedge fund manager turned school psychologist who honestly cares about Barbara and the maelstrom of her life.

This cast is almost entirely female in a similar way to Annihilation. The male characters in the graphic novel play a very minor role and are even more placed in the background in the film. They are there to move the story along but aren't major players, unless you count the giants/harbingers, the namesake of Barbara's weapon and the Titan. The principal is there to save and punish Barbara, her brother and his friends are there to show conflict, Mrs. Molle's husband pops up to illustrate she has a life outside of trying to help Barbara and Barbara's father isn't even mentioned. (He is mentioned in the book but in a dismissive way- as the father/husband who didn't fulfill his familial duty.) I'm not sure if this is done on purpose but it allows the story to show the characteristics usually associated with men- bravery, anger, strength- to be shown in a real way. Men aren't the only ones who have these feelings and this is how they are expressed by a young girl. And the limited times the men are shown, either in human form or in the monsters that Barbara has to face, they are usually destructive or authoritative in how they interact with the world.

I think the most important two parts of this movie to me was ultimately Barbara dealing with her mother's condition and reality and also accepting that reality but not losing her imagination in the process. Even after dealing with the storm/the Titan, Barbara still has the creative mind to observe fantastical things, or at least one. She had matured over the summer after the storm. She becomes more willing to interact with others and not have to use her geeky loves as defense against the world. Even with this growth, Barbara is still able to hang onto the magic that hides behinds reality and sometimes allows us to deal with the stresses of real life.

You have to find the balance between the real and the absurd to survive in the world. Or at least Barbara's world of giants.

Sean Fields is an aspiring writer and has been in the education field for more than a decade. He works mostly with teenagers nowadays which both keeps him well informed on pop culture and makes his hair turn grayer daily. He has a few blogs but is currently focused on this one and this other one. You can also find him on TumblrTwitter and Instagram, if you want to be entertained or infuriated.

Shadow Of The Colossus Shadow Of The Colossus Reviewed by SeanFields on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 Rating: 5
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