Jack the Giant Slayer: Carefree and Fancy
Bryan Singer is a great director with an unusual quality curvature on the great graph of his efforts. He directed X-Men 1 and 2, Superman Returns, and is about to do another superhero movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, a time-travel movie with mutant powers (oh my). On the way to that, he seems to feel right at home directing the simple, straight-forward Jack the Giant Slayer, starring Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class) as the titular Jack.
Most of you probably grew up with the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. The story that our Jack (Nicholas Hoult) grew up with follows Eric the Terrible becoming King of the Giants and sending the big, ugly bastards up a beanstalk to “a prison between Heaven and Earth”.
Jack is, of course, an innocent farm boy. He’s a nice kid with a good head on his shoulders, if not a little naive. His Uncle sends him to the Kingdom to sell his horse and he comes back with magical relics from the past, beans that will grow to the Giants’ prison when wet. It starts raining, a bean falls into a crack in the floor, and WHAM, we get a taste of action.
A massive beanstalk takes Jack’s house, along with a runaway princess, far beyond the clouds. The King sends his best men up the beanstalk to recover his daughter. Jack volunteers, as does the princesses’ betrothed, Roderick (Stanley Tucci, who is really great here). They all begin the climb, with heavy CGI and an epic score marrying the action very well.
Because the movie is in 3D, there are some really great visuals that pop out, but most of the CGI is old technology that feels out of place. However, by the time the story starts to flesh itself out, the 3D becomes lost. That being said, the predictable story was still exciting and a breath of fresh air in a fairy tale re-imagining.
The actors all do a respectable job of breathing life into dryly written characters. Ewan McGregor especially outperforms the lead. He plays Elmont, leader of the King’s elite guard, who is a brave, charismatic badass who you wish is the hero. Easily the most exciting character in the movie, Elmont brings out the balls in Jack, who slays a Giant and wins the heart of a princess he can’t have.
When the Giants eventually make their way down to Earth and wage war on the Kingdom, we are treated to a very creative battle. The last act is well done and energetic, but not too fast-paced or 3D-conscious. If you know how the story of Jack and the Beanstalk ends, you won’t get anything different out of this movie. But when the credits roll, you might just be inspired to whip out those old stories and reminisce.