Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack_The_Giant_Slayer

Bryan Singer and New Line Cinema take an ancient fairy tale and use it as a jumping-off point for a modern, CGI loaded action movie. Unfortunately, it suffers from a lot of the same issues that other modern, CGI loaded action movies do. Namely, it has a weak script, occasionally sketchy visuals, and plenty of “green screen acting”.

It will most likely appeal to children, but for discerning adults, “Jack” won’t have much to offer.

When Jack (Nicholas Hoult) as Jack is tasked with selling the family horse, he winds up selling it to a fugitive monk for ten coppers… and accepts a handful of magic beans as collateral.

Legends say that in ancient times, the giant beanstalks that grew from beans like these connected the kingdom to a land of giants who lived in the clouds above. War between men and giants raged until the king, Erik, forged a magic crown that controlled the giants and sent them back into the clouds. When Erik passed away, his crown and the remaining beans were buried with him. Now, however, they’ve been unearthed and have fallen into the hands of a farm boy.

Jack takes the beans home to his leaky-roofed farmhouse, and accidentally lets one fall through the cracks in the floorboards. It doesn’t sprout, however, until the kingdom’s Princess, Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), stops by seeking shelter from the storm. When it does grow, it grows rapidly, rocketing the farmhouse and the Princess into the sky. Jack, who was tossed out during the sprouting, is left on the ground.

When the King (Ian McShane), his advisor (Stanley Tucci), and the Captain of his guard (Ewan McGregor) come by, seeking the princess, Jack joins them in a climb up the beanstalk… to a land where evil, man-eating Giants await.

The Giants, sadly, are one of my biggest gripes with “Jack the Giant Slayer”. I think they’re designed poorly. They all look to be some sort of giant Mongoloid… all of their faces are misshapen and odd. The leader (voiced by Bill Nighy) has two heads. I understand that centuries of inbreeding may genetically result in unattractive creatures, but from a movie watching perspective, I found them unappealing. Worse, they were also unbelievable. The CGI work here left the creatures mildly cartoonish. Perhaps that’s intentional in order not to frighten younger viewers, but there was never a moment where I felt I was seeing something real, not one. I was constantly struggling with the “Uncanny Valley”.

Meanwhile, the story is children’s movie level at best. Things are over simplified, and there’s scant attention paid to the characters. The actual action sequences are rather tame, with the exception of the final standoff. For every time they did something cool with the effects or the action, it traded it back a minute later by doing something childish. I think the best portions of the film involved scaling the beanstalk… because they were giant free.

Families may find something of value here. I imagine that children between 7 and 10 or so would probably think that this movie was awesome. Its easy enough for them to follow, the creatures are mildly scary, but not too scary, and the violence is sanitized enough so that parents wont regret taking them.

For the rest of us though, Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, Jack the Giant Slayer is really dumb.

C

Daniel Fogarty

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56 thoughts on “Jack the Giant Slayer

  1. Initially i had hopes for this one, since i like Hoult and i think Singer has made some good stuff. But wen i saw the previews, any hope i had kind of went away. It looked like the film didn’t know whether it to be a dark take on the fairytale, or something more kid oriented.

  2. Thanks for the review. Was thinking about going to this film this weekend, but I’ll just skip it or rent it instead. I’m excited about Oz next weekend – hopefully that one will be better!

  3. We are planning on seeing this using free passes we got at a theater when they had an Imax snaffu and we didn’t get any sound for the first 10 to 15 minutes of the last Batman movie. The trailers were very funny to me but it could be a case of the best lines being placed in the trailer to get people to the theater. In which case, using a free pass on it seems like the best option.

    • Definitely, then even if you dont like it, at least it didnt cost you anything.

      If you liked the trailers, you stand a good chance of liking it better than I did… none of the marketing for this movie ever impressed me, and the movie only confirmed that for me. :(

      • There was a quality to this film that made me think of The Princess Bride. The kids leaving the theater seemed to love it. It could go either way, but I think that there is a possibility of it becoming something of a cult classic. And the one actor reminded me very much of a young Kenneth Braughnah (whose name I’m sure I just butchered).

      • Ehhhhhhh… I can see how kids would love it, certainly. I don’t really see the cult classic potential though. I think it’s going to go down, more along the lines of John Carter. It’s going to be a similar sized flop I believe.

    • How droll. LOL

      Yeah, I know, right? The first weekend of March should be kicking off mini-Summer, man, WTF is up with all of this garbage? All four new releases are Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes. Thats BS.

      Oz better deliver!

  4. Dang, I actually really enjoyed the hell out of this movie. Course, me and my friend spent the entire thing snarking at it, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with my enjoyment. XP

    Also, I can agree with you concerning the visuals of the giants not looking quite right, but they really didn’t bother me personally in this instance. Oh well, different strokes and all that, heh.

    • Sorry to be contrarian. Not sure that ragging on a movie speaks to its quality though. LOL

      I dont know that the Giants needed to be real looking that much or anything? But to me they just looked goofy. Which took me right out of it. :(

  5. For some reason I thought this was an animated movie until I read the reviews. Nice review, I’ll be skipping this one. I hope Bryan Singer will make another good film again.

  6. Nothing like some crappy GG to let a film down, but there seems to be a lot more wrong with this as you point out. I always hold to the view that CG is a fantastic tool but it has to be used appropriately and well, if the standard is crap that’s the film dead there. This seemingly is very much pointed towards kids which may mean it will get away with a lot of sub standard stuff as you point out.Shame really because it really looked to have some potential this one.

    • Oh there totally is more wrong with it than just the CGI. The CGi is shaky at times, yeah. Good at others though. In general though my biggest beef is that its a really simple, silly film. You know?

      Definitely more geared towards kids. I’m curious to see how it performs at the box office this weekend!

  7. I know I’m alone in the boat with this one, but I really had fun with this movie. I wasn’t expecting much, and I came out very happy and pleased. But then again, I know it’s all just me. Solid review, nonetheless bud.

    • LOL. I saw your review, I just didnt comment. :D We already didn’t see eye to eye on one movie this morning, I thought it was enough for one day. :D

      I cant support you on this one man. It’s all me on “21&”, but I think you’re right, it’s just you on this one! LOL

  8. Not surprised what so ever. Looked horrible from the get go. It’ll still probably make an annoying amount of money and spawn a sequel, so there’s that.

  9. I kind of had this pegged as “having potential for either direction”. Good idea, but the trailer didn’t leave me feeling like it was necessarily done well. Guess it wasn’t. Oh well, toss another on the forgettable fantasy pile…

  10. “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, Jack the Giant Slayer is really dumb.” Great finishing line here Fogs. I quite fancy this one I have to say but that line may well be the one that seals the deal. I won’t go into it expecting anything special. Shame that Bryan Singer has never really lived up to his potential after The Usual Suspects.

    • Well…. in fairness, his two X-Men movies were excellent, and Valkyrie actually wasn’t half bad.

      He’s a far cry from being in the mix with Aronofsky and Nolan etc, where I think a lot of people would have liked to have seen him get to. :(

  11. How true. I was not impressed with it. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to think the giants were not CGI. There was really no excitment for me. The one playing the princess had no screen chemistry. The whole hill of beans is, in one word, MEH!

  12. We’re pretty much in agreement here Fogs. I thought based on your Spring preview writeup you were not gonna see this one.

  13. The trailers don’t sell this well, and probably for the reasons you listed, particularly that the giant design is awful. But also the way that kid delivers the line “It’s Jack!” is bloody awful. Makes me crack up every time I see it.

    • Yeah, there’s plenty of that here. Unfortunately not enough to push it into so bad it’s good territory though. :(

      I kept hoping that somehow, with a full movie to work with, the Giants would look better than in the trailers.

      Nope.

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