Film Review – Jack The Giant Slayer

Jack The Giant Slayer (PG)

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright

There is a glimmer of hope early on in this beefed up, big budget, silver screen adaptation of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk that promises something special has sprouted. An impeccably edited sequence cuts between Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a teenager on the verge of manhood, being yelled at by his exasperated uncle to grow up and take responsibility and the young hero’s love interest Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who craves independence and a grand adventure. We know this story will bring them together eventually to battle the giants, but it suggests a particular interest in characters and relationships and that it will focus as much on the human aspect as it will the spectacle.

Unfortunately, once those CGI giants appear, this gem of a moment becomes just a memory and so does promise of a fleshed out courtship. But despite dropping the ball with this particular aspect, director Bryan Singer and his team of five screenwriters deliver a fun, if not always overly thrilling, ride with action, humour and additional grand mythology and mystical legend to appeal to the attention spans of modern audiences and boost the story to feature-length running time.

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Bringing us up to speed on the legendary battle between humans and giants, we see a young Jack and young Princess Isabelle being told the tale as a bedtime story. The battle was thought to have ended once humans came to possess the magical crown that sparked the conflict. But when Jack grows up, he comes into contact with a handful of magic beans that, when wet, create a beanstalk passage to the giants living in the sky and the contention is resurrected. Jack volunteers with a team of the King Brahmwell’s (Ian McShane) men, including Elmont (Ewan McGregor), Roderick (Staley Tucci) and Wicke (Ewen Bremner), to help rescue the princess when she is captured by the stinky and hairy over sized ogres. But Roderick, who has been handpicked to marry the much younger princess, has more sinister plans of his own.

This passable updated fairytale is at times tonally confused; Singer is never really sure when this film’s tongue should be planted firmly in its cheek. Singer occasionally takes things a little more seriously than what is necessary. This is after all about magic beans and giants. McGregor seems to be on the right wavelength with his performance, with a hint that he is winking at the audience more than his colleagues. Hoult is sweet and sensitive but never really transforms into the fearless hero we want to be rooting for. But then again, this film becomes as disinterested in his arc as it does with the central relationship the more it progresses.

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