I had absolutely no interest in seeing “Jack The Giant Slayer”, primarily because it didn’t look very interesting. I went to see it because my nephew asked me to go with him, which made me think about the film in an entirely different way. His desire to see the movie after seeing commercials for it on Nickelodeon made me wonder, is this film made in mind for young audiences or adults? To be honest, after seeing the movie I still don’t have an answer to that question, which is both a good thing and a bad thing.
The story is pretty cut and dry considering it’s just a dark re-imagining of the classic fairy tale “Jack And The Beanstalk”. The movie starts out with a young boy (Jack) who is told an old wise tale by his father. A tale about giants who use to rule the land and feast on human beings as they traveled down to our world from theirs, using giant beanstalks that touched the skies as a way down. However a group of townspeople fight back and are able to defeat one of the giants. They then cut out its heart and use magic to forge it into a crown. A man named Eric places the crown on his head, and when he does so the giants must obey his every command. Eric orders the giants back to their world in the skies and demands all beanstalks be cut down, turning the giants home into a prison. Eventually Eric dies of old age as a king and the seeds from the Beanstalks along with his magic crown are buried with him, and as the decades pass the story becomes legend, but the giants swear one day they’ll find a way back to our world with an army to feast on Eric’s kin.
After the opening story the film fast-forwards ten years to when Jack is a Teenager. From then on in the core story will start to feel familiar. A princess that needs to be rescued from the top of a giant beanstalk, a farm boy (Jack) who must save her and prove he’s better than all the kings knights, giant man eating monsters that need to to be slain along the way. However the film adds enough good side characters that allow the plot to not so much twist but more so turn just enough to keep the audience’s attention. In other words you’ll see a lot of what’s coming from a mile away but there’s enough story and adventure in that mile to make the trip seem okay.
Believe it or not the writing is probably the films strongest attribute. At no point does the story try to convince you that the movie takes place in anything other than a world of pure fantasy. Its only flaw is overall predictability but it’s something that can be quickly forgiven considering the amount of great conflict the characters are given. The films final scene is also a clever nod that makes the story very well rounded and script feel pretty solid for a fantasy adventure
The movie actually has a very good cast with names like Ian McShane and Ewan McGregor, but nobody really shines in any of their performances. It almost feels like everyone is having such a fun time making the movie that their character never seems to far from happy no matter what situation they're in. Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson aren’t bad as the leads, creating good chemistry, in-fact Tomlinsons performance as the gutsy princess in distress is probably the best performance of the film.
Bryan Singer is usually a great director but he unfortunately misses a few notes on this one. The opening fairy tale is told through a very weird form of CGI cartoons that doesn’t really fit the movie at all. He fortunately choose a slightly better type of CGI to film just about any shot that requires an effect for the rest of the movie, which makes the film feel cheesy and a bit lazy at times. He also failed to really create a cool world for the giants to live in. Their world was really nothing more than some trees and some lakes, which is kind of disappointing considering the film builds up suspense to its unveiling.
This was either a very cool and dark fantasy adventure for kids, or an unnecessary but mildly entertaining film for adults. It’s a good film to watch for the whole family because the kids will love the pace and the action while adults can still appreciate the scope of the story and the popcorn value it holds. However some kids may find it a little too scary when some characters literally get eaten alive (although it always quickly cuts off screen and we never really get to see it). In the end I’d have to say it’s a movie that I can’t see anybody completely hating unless they’re a stickler for only reality based films, but overall there’s nothing really too special to see either as the film basically feels like a poor man’s “Stardust”.
6.5 out of 10
Written By Tom Balko