Giants and beanstalks and henchmen, oh my! From the directing/writing duo (Bryan Singer and Chris McQuarrie) who brought us The Usual Suspects, comes a re-imagining of the well-known and beloved fairy tale of almost the same name. Is Jack the Giant Slayer really a re-imagining, or is it just another Hollywood cash grab? My review after the jump.
Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a rather hopeless 18 year-old boy who lives on a dog-tired farm with his uncle. He spends his days fantasising of stories such as the one about King Erik, the man who long ago conquered a horde of vicious, bloodthirsty giants using the power of his crown. However, spending time thinking of these stories isn’t doing anything to help save the farm (if we see a farm in a film, it’s always about to be foreclosed by the bank). In a trip to the city to raise money for the farm, Jack has unplanned encounter with a monk attempting to flee the kingdom, that results in a handful of magical beans ending up in Jack’s possession. Through a series of misunderstandings and unfortunate events, the beans end up exposed to perfect growing conditions, and quickly a beanstalk grows.
Enter Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who just so happens to also daydream about such magical stories; and unfortunately for her, pays Jack a visit just as the beanstalk sprouts from the ground. The princess is caught up by the rapidly growing stalk and is thrust through the clouds to the land above, where she is kidnapped by the bloodthirsty giants from the legends. Who’s job is it to save her? The King’s band of knights, led by Wicke (Ewan McGregor) and of course…Jack. Will they save Princess Isabelle? What exactly does the shifty-eyed, slimy King’s right-hand man Roderick (Stanley Tucci) have planned? And just how many hungry giants await them at the top?
The summary of Jack the Giant Slayer‘s quality is in the appearance of Stanley Tucci as Lord Roderick. He has long hair and buck teeth…why does he have buck teeth? Regardless, it is a talented actor whose worth is bogged down by predictable silliness . Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie are amazing talents (his last film, Jack Reacher was a superb popcorn flick), yet what of their talent is utilised in this film? Jack the Giant Slayer is so by the numbers in its fee fi ho hum of a plot that you stop paying attention to the film and question “why?” Why use the same formula every other Hollywood cash-grab picture uses? For a film about giants, there weren’t many. What I saw was a bunch of CGI-heavy imitations of play dough coughing and mumbling. It’s not particularly innovative.
Speaking of such a formula, let’s break it down, so you know you’ll have saved 20 bucks the minute you’ve finished reading this review.
Hopeless hero + enigmatic damsel…who eventually is in distress. Infatuation making him stronger and suddenly possesses expert moves that prove deadly. We believe all is well and resolved until a plot hole is revisited, thus making the excuse for an endless half hour-long battle where the protagonist once again proves his worth and the strong guy who everyone believes to be the hero merely nods in his direction. Insert Trumpet filled score, along with cheering crowd and clear blue skies while before the credits roll we’re meant to ask ourselves “is it all really over?”. Cut to black while Nickleback plays over the directors credit..whom we’re all disappointed in.
We’ve seen it over and over again. Stop it, Hollywood! I want to see a something different. We all do…
The one positive are the performances, which are solid considering the lacklustre material. Hoult is quite good, as is Tomlinson. Tucci and McShane try their best, yet are humiliated as performers by such a silly script and even more questionable directing. Finally, Mr Ewan McGregor…now the entire film, he seems to be having so much fun, yet we all want to know what movie he thinks he’s in, and where in the hell can we see it instead of this?
The question that also needs to be asked [as this is a children’s film] is, ‘will kids enjoy it?’ Like the 5 year-old sitting behind me said, “When does this get good?”
By Chris Elena
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer(s): Christopher McQuarrie, Dan Studney, Darren Lemke
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ian McShane
Runtime: 114 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia & New Zealand: March 21, 2013; USA: March 1, 2013