Jack the Giant Slayer
by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
What do Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Snow White and the Huntsman, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan all have in common? If you answered they are all fairytales recently made into live-action films, then you would be correct. As children, we all hear these fairytales either from parents, in school or reading on our own, so it’s an obvious choice for Hollywood to turn them into large film spectacles that bring what once was only imagined to life before our eyes. And so it is with Bryen Singer’s latest film, Jack the Giant Slayer that the story of Jack and the Beanstalk is shaped into a new rendition of the classic tale.
As a young boy, Jack has heard the story of Giants. They were beaten by King Eric who was able to control them with a crown made from one of their hearts. The king sent the Giants into the sky and cut down the beanstalk. Fast-forward a decade and farm boy Jack (Nicholas Hoult) has gone to town to sell a horse. However, a monk gives him beans to protect instead of money. After defending a young woman, who just happens to be Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), Jack goes home to an unhappy uncle.
A few events later, Isabelle ends up at his home and one of the magic beans falls through the floor boards and gets wet: the one “no-no” the monk told him about. The bean automatically sprouts, and Isabelle and the house are carried to the heavens. King Brahmwell (Ian McShane), orders Jack, along with the princess’ protectors, Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and Crawe (Eddie Marsan), and her husband-to-be, Roderick (Stanley Tucci), to climb the beanstalk and bring her home. However, Roderick is in possession of the crown that controls the Giants and has his own plan, which he sets into action once they reach the top.
Jack the Giant Slayer follows a predictable path. We all know how the movie is going to play out and the characters stick to their stereotypical roles. Jack starts out as clueless boy and turns into a hero by the end. There is the “princess can’t marry a commoner” rule, but we all know how that generally turns out. You have the king’s right hand man who inevitably has his own agenda with a goal to rule himself…yes, it is all here. But there are still a few surprises to be had, none of which will be mentioned here.
Jack the Giant Slayer is high on its usage of CGI; but let’s be honest, when we’re creating huge beanstalks, an army of giants, flying flaming trees and “pigs in a blanket,” that’s about the only way one can go. Unless you know an army of giants somewhere who would have been perfectly suited for this film. The huge battle sequence brings back memories of the grand scale fights in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which gives it some kudos. And the giants in Jack the Giant Slayer look FAR better than the troll sequence in The Hobbit. There are times when the CGI can be a little much, and it almost feels like we’re watching someone play a video game instead of a film. Also, some of the physics seems a little off during some parts of the battle sequence, but maybe I’m nitpicking.
Issues with the film aside, I enjoyed it overall. Bryen Singer brings a new take to the classic tale and it isn’t a walk in the park. Death is real, and it is often gruesome, and Singer makes that a reality for the audience. These giants aren’t soft and cuddly, nor are the inept. This also isn’t necessarily a film for children. If you’re hoping for something like Mirror Mirror or Enchanted, you may need to look elsewhere. Singer makes a darker version of the story that’s fast-paced and bigger on the fantasy, but in the end, doesn’t have the muscle to stand up against bigger box office films. That’s probably why it was released in March. But this isn’t to say it isn’t worth seeing. Oh, and by the way, “fe,” “fi,” “fo” and “fum” do make an appearance!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars