At this time of year, ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ being just average is a win
It’s an interesting time for movie go-ers and critics alike. The Oscars are over and we won’t see any contenders for next year until the fall at the earliest. It’s not summer where the money-making blockbusters are rolled out every week either. Instead it’s the late winter, barely early spring, and studios are dumping out their closets hoping to make a few extra bucks. Some of these prove to be enjoyable surprises, such as Warm Bodies, and some are just okay like Jack the Giant Slayer.
Keeping with the fairytale Jack (Nicholas Hoult, Warm Bodies) is a poor farm boy who is just trying to sell a horse and cart. In true form he trades them for magical beans. When one of them slips into the ground a giant stalk shoots up in the air, leading to a place that was only a legend. It’s a place between Earth and Heaven where giants live and like to consume humans when they get the chance. The only problem is when that stalk was growing it took the kingdom’s princess, Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson, Alice in Wonderland) up with it. Desperate to save the princess and win her love, Jack sets out to climb the stalk with Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci), and Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and defeat the giants.
It’s always fun to see such a mix of actors in one film. Going into this film you know no matter what you’ll get some good acting. Hoult, although not given much to work with acting-wise, still continues to show promise as a young actor to watch. He comes off as the honest, noble guy you would want Jack to be. Although to save on money it looks like he stole his costumes from Warm Bodies. Tucci, as always, is great as the evil Lord Roderick. The character is over the top and ridiculous and you know Tucci is having fun playing him. McGregor’s Elmont is the typical stock good guy character. He provides the only real kind of wit to the film and he’s just along for the ride.
The first 2/3 of this film needed to be re-written and shortened. The first 10-15 minutes decently set up the legend of the giants and what you’ll need to know for later scenes. The pacing continues to be okay until the stalk starts to grow and the quest for the princess begins, when time starts to drag. Too much time is spent on the threesome in the giants’ land, which sets up the last third of the film, although it’s moderately interesting. You spend much of the film waiting for when the humans and giants finally face off. It’s a good face off to watch but it’s only a small portion of the film overall. There should’ve been more time dedicated to the giant/human fight and less time dedicated to finding Isabelle.
The special effects for the giants aren’t particularly bad, but they aren’t particularly impressive. When the film’s director, Bryan Singer, was on the reality movie make up show Face Off he made a big deal about the week’s challenge of making a two-headed giant. Yet there’s only one two-headed giant in the actual film, which was somewhat disappointing. The best scene the giants are used for is when the 40+ group of giants are charging at the castle and you can see just how small Hoult, McGregor, and Tucci are compared to them. They’re realistic looking to get by, but considering it’s Singer directing I was expecting a little more.
Still when you compare Jack the Giant Slayer to say Red Riding Hood it practically looks like it belongs at Cannes. It does have that fairytale storybook element feel to it, and the idea behind the film is actually a clever twist on an old story. Unlike Red Riding Hood, Jack the Giant Slayer is clean without any weird innuendos, but still packs a decent punch of adventure. That is if you can get over the staggering amount of bad puns there are.
Jack the Giant Slayer is rated PG-13 for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images, and brief language. At 114 minutes the film feels more like three hours.
PM&S’ VERDICT–Fe fi fo fum, this could have been better done! Still better than most recent fairytale movies…
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