Jack the Giant Slayer
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci
Directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men)
Rated PG-13 for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language
Loosely based on the classic fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack the Giant Slayer follows the journey of a young man named Jack, obviously, played here by Nicholas Hoult, fresh off his last modest success Warm Bodies. Upon selling his horse for a handful of magic beans, Jack proceeds to accidentally lose one, causing a giant beanstalk to grow into the clouds. Unfortunately it takes his house with it while a young incognito princess is paying a visit and trapped inside. Upon learning of her disappearance, the king sends Jack, the queen’s sinister fiancé (Stanley Tucci) and his royal guard, led by Ewan McGregor to rescue her. Upon arriving at the top of the beanstalk, they discover an evil race of giants determined to travel back to Earth in order to destroy humankind.
I expected much from this film. I expected it to be lame. I expected it to be dumb. I expected to be bored. I was wrong on all counts. Recently we’ve seen a rash of movies based on fairy tales including Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and the two Snow White films from 2012. With the exception of Snow White and the Huntsman, all of these movies have been fairly terrible. So then along comes Jack and you can probably see why I didn’t think much of it. But I can always admit when I’m wrong, especially with movies.
What really impressed me the most here is the combination of storytelling with phenomenal special effects. I’m not sure if the 3D was necessary, but the effects are remarkable, making the story come to life like only a big-budget Hollywood film can.
If the film doesn’t do well, the only thing I can think of that could be blamed is the lack of starpower. None of the actors is really capable of opening a big film, and as much as I really like Hoult, he is an indie actor with only an indie following at this point in his career. I’m sure the producers are depending on director Bryan Singer to put butts in seats and I’m not sure if that will happen. But regardless of celebrity status, the performances are all good for the project and more importantly the film is plain old fun. It’s not perfect, but it is highly enjoyable. And if you are anything like me, that will come as a huge and pleasantly welcome surprise. B+