By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Based on the fairy tales Jack the Giant Killer and Jack and the Bean Stalk, director Bryan Singer and screenwriters Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, Dan Studney and David Dobkin bring to the big screen a fun and exciting reinterpretation of these stories. Singer, his writers, cast and crew deliver witty humor, thrilling swashbuckling action, and delightful characters that should please audience members of most ages. A warning must be issued, though; the film does earn its PG-13 with its brief use of strong language, so parents with children younger than nine may want to proceed cautiously. Nevertheless in a usually uneventful movie season, Jack the Giant Slayer is the first ray of sunshine from a more exciting season coming in the months ahead.
Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a poor young farm kid, while attempting to sell a horse and cart gets a hold of a bag of seemingly benign beans. When he accidentally drops one of the beans on the ground, a huge beanstalk arises leading to a world high in the sky, between earth and the heavens. This world, a land of giant beastly creatures, clashes with the land of humans leading to a war and struggle for power over the entire world.
I have to say that I had such a fun time watching this film. Hoult’s Jack makes for a likable reluctant hero for whom audiences will root. His shy, but witty charm should win the admiration of all audience members. The lovely Eleanor Tomlinson portrays the strong willed, but sweet Princess Isabelle with whom Jack becomes enamored. Ewan MacGregor does superb work as Elmont, Isabelle’s body guard and soldier extraordinaire. As the ambitious and villainous Roderick, actor Stanley Tucci is an absolute joy to watch in this wickedly humorous role. As the alpha giant General Fallon, Bill Nighy lends his golden voice to this slightly less comical and more menacing monster.
As for the CGI giants, the effects crew does some exceptional work. These computer generated characters have a lightly cartoonish feel, but not so much that it takes away from their tangibility and their abilities to intimidate. As for the 3D, once again I was not too impressed. The theater screening the film suffered from some dark projection, so this probably didn’t help either. In the better lit scenes, the 3D still didn’t offer anything extraordinary for the eyes. I wouldn’t recommend spending the extra money.
While the writing does have some stellar moments, the script does have a few issues. One in particular involves the weakness of the giants. Their weakness never gets a satisfying explanation and its use in the film is way too simple. This particular story element does require some suspension of disbelief which will probably annoy the adults more than the younger audience members. The humor also suffers from an over-reliance of bodily function gags with the giant characters. Some of these attempts at comic relief should have been left out. This again will probably grate more with the grownups than with any kids watching the movie.
Regardless of these gripes I have with Jack the Giant Slayer, I highly recommend that people catch it in the theater. Because of its strengths, the film makes for a thrilling and enjoyable visit to the cinema. Again, I wouldn’t recommend watching it in 3D, but a full priced ticket is certainly not out the question.