Six-Pack Cinema: They Might be Giants


Six films with characters that are larger than life

The BFG continues a long tradition of movies with extra-large characters. Enjoy one of these half-dozen films that feature giants of one sort or another, arranged in descending order of magnitude.

The Iron Giant (1999)
This charming animated buddy film, directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), is, in essence, Gentle Ben for the sci-fi set. A lonely boy befriends a huge mechanical giant, neither of them aware that the behemoth is a powerful weapon sent from outer space. Voiced by Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr. and John Mahoney, with Vin Diesel as the titular giant, this has become a cult film because of its high-tech lyricism and painterly cinematography. —MF

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
Bryan Singer, high-octane director of many X-Men movies, goes medieval in this effects-driven telling of a classic fairy tale. Jack, a poor yet plucky adventurer, seeks to make his mark by undertaking a quest to rescue a princess from the land of giants. The fantasy setting, especially the particularly grotesque ogres, is thrillingly captured. But, the coherence of the story and the conviction of the characters suffer from Singer’s focus on the slam-bang CGI action sequences. Stars Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Eleanor Tomlinson. —MF

Into the Woods (2014)
A modern musical take on the fairy tales Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk, together by a convoluted plot in which a baker and his wife try to fulfill a witch’s wishes so she will lift the curse that keeps them childless. This story’s giants, mister and missus, wreak havoc on our beloved characters’ lives and yet are strangely sympathetic. Stephen Sondheim’s sophisticated music and deft lyrics, which thoroughly dispel all romanticized aspects of these fairy tales, make it all worthwhile. So does the stellar cast that includes Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt. —PG

Deadpool (2016)
Ryan Reynolds redeems himself for the travesty that was Green Lantern as Marvel’s snarkiest, most profane superhero, Deadpool, in a film that is both shockingly funny and gorily destructive. Reynolds, hidden under either a mask or disfiguring makeup, is freed to set aside his pretty-boy looks and concentrate his energy on this motor-mouthed alter ego whose persona fits the actor like a skintight superhero suit. The action is predictably overblown in director Tim Miller’s adventure, but the mockingly self-aware screenplay captures the unique corner of the Marvel-verse that is Deadpool. The credits alone are worth the rental price. —MF

The Princess Bride (1987)
This classic shows us storybook romance in all its forms, from the lovely farm girl Buttercup, chosen to marry the evil Prince Humperdinck while her true love Westley (an orphan farm boy whom she thinks was killed by pirates) is making his way back to her; to the dashing Inigo Montoya, training himself to be an expert swordsman so he can avenge the murder of his father. The giant is Fezzik, whose good heart and ability to improvise silly rhymes compensates for what he lacks in brains. William Goldman’s screenplay is a trove of movie quotables. —PG

James and the Giant Peach (1996)
The giant in question here is overly large flora rather than fantastical fauna. James, a lonely orphan (are we seeing a trend here?), lives a miserable life with his cruel aunts until he magically sparks the growth of a giant peach that he climbs inside of to discover a menagerie of helpful, talking bugs. Directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) in his stock-in-trade stop-motion animation style, the film is a curious blend of whimsy and the macabre that is captivating but ultimately exhausting. Like The BFG, this is based on a Roald Dahl story. —MF

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