Quick Hit: Great ideas and nice camerawork get held down by some cartoonish characters and subpar acting.
A Wish For Giants is an independent film sent to us by stuntman Joe Fischel. The film is based off a book, written by Aaron Dunbar (he also wrote the screenplay) and is directed by Don Swanson. The film concerns a little girl (Alexa Mechling) diagnosed with a brain tumor who is contacted by a “Make A Wish” type foundation. Her wish: To see a live Bigfoot.
That impossible task is given to student volunteer Sophie (Naysa Altmeyer). Her task leads her through numerous conversations with her meathead boyfriend, as well as through the grasps of a Senator’s son, Derek (Connor McClain) before finding out what wishes are truly about.
Let me first praise the films superior qualities. I really liked a big portion of the story element. As an unabashed cryptozoologist myself, it was fun to see a Bigfoot story on screen that wasn’t a pure horror, and wasn’t a total hoax. Setting it in the “Make a Wish” type feel was a good take. There was a bit of extra I didn’t care for (Sophie’s life isn’t very well explained, Derek’s painfully obvious fatherhood issues) but overall the bare bones are there for a good story. It also hits you right in the feels – who doesn’t enjoy a heart-warming Bigfoot story?
For being shot on a $25k budget, the film looks really, really good. The location work is amazing, and must director Swanson and his team show a keen eye for getting the location that fits each individual scene. The camera movement is smooth throughout, and while I’ve noted in other films that I don’t love a bunch of unnecessary artistic shots of people’s hands, food, car wheels, etc, A Wish For Giants manages to keep the plot moving and the imagery poignant.
Ms. Altmeyer is the clear standout in the cast with Sophie, who truly shows the confliction that is associated with being given an impossible task for a dying girl. You don’t necessarily get enough background to understand her emotions (suddenly she finds Roxie to be “the most amazing girl” having only met her for a moment), but she consistently gives her all. Roxie, Ms. Mechling, starts off slow but ascends near the end of the movie as the emotional heart.
I’ll fully admit that I had a tough time with the character of Derek and Mr. McClain’s performance thereof. Derek is made to be a cartoon villain inside a live action film. He all but laughs maniacally as he leaves the screen. I did not like this character… but I don’t think you’re supposed to. Mr. McClain leaves quite a bit to be desired – he fumbles the dialogue on more than one occasion – but in making you dislike him he is successful.
Speaking of dialogue, there’s a lot of it here that feels largely stilted. I think due to the fact that many of the cast is fairly new to acting for a camera (I didn’t find much IMDB history), this is something that is due to inexperience as opposed to anything else. That being said, it still detracts from the overall experience of the movie.
The score gets really old, really fast. I liked it at first – it really fits the mood of a Bigfoot chase – but it’s repeated incessantly.
In the end, I never fell in love with A Wish For Giants. It was a solid film for being an independent with a good story that never raised higher than that. I give it a “C”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"