Jack the Giant Slayer is an entertaining re-telling of the classic fairytale with great cinematography and an appealing pair of leads.
Plot: Jack (Nicholas Hoult) joins the king’s men to rescue princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) after being spirited to the land of giants on a magic beanstalk.
Review: I’ve never been a massive fan of the Jack and the Beanstalk fable; it’s alright. I did enjoy the Abbott and Costello version when I was a kid, but it wasn’t exactly a story I kept revisiting or pining to see done big-budget Hollywood style. When it came out in 2013, I skipped it, even though it was helmed by Bryan Singer, who made entertaining blockbuster-ish films (and who I expect won’t make another movie for a long, long time, if ever).
My dad ended up watching it and telling me I should watch it; I still refused, which led to him buying me an actual copy. Well, as we’re still in a pandemic (despite what the politicians might tell you), and I found some time on a long weekend to sit down and watch some of the movies in my library that I hadn’t gotten to, including Jack the Giant Slayer.
First, the good stuff: Jack the Giant Slayer is an entertaining flick. Plenty is going on, with not one but two encounters with the giants of lore, including a pretty impressive siege of a castle. Nicholas Hoult is likeable as Jack, and Eleanor Tomlinson is shockingly, not snotty or bitchy as the princess. Ewan MacGregor stands out as the captain of the king’s guard, who could have been insufferably arrogant, but instead seems to be a fine chap. Stanley Tucci is wonderful as usual as the villain.
The movie also has some absurdly good cinematography; I don’t quite know where they filmed the movie, but it looks great. The earthly world of Jack and his companions is very rich with lots of green, the castle set is impressive, and the world of the giants is breathtaking – it feels like a fully-realized other world where creatures of myth could live, yet doesn’t seem like too fantastical.
That being said, the story in this movie is very basic. There are no surprises, and it unfolds almost exactly as you can imagine – this is a movie for kids, and it feels like it, even though there’s some very adult fare on display. For instance, the giants eat people, but when they do, the camera consistently cuts away, and you are left with the reactions of the other characters to tell the grotesque results – we gotta keep our PG rating, people! It’s annoying because if you’re going to go for it, go all the way, man – this half-assed stuff always annoys me.
Also, I was not that crazy about the CGI used to make the giants come to life. I was half-and-half, really, because being creatures who would never actually exist, it’s alright if they don’t look natural, but on the other hand, sometimes they seemed too fake. I guess in the end, it was okay, but it’s a pitfall with telling this sort of story. Also, the score was utterly unmemorable – if I heard it now, I might not even realize it was the score for Jack the Giant Slayer.
So overall, this was an entertaining, kid-friendly movie that does a serviceable job of telling the classic story for a new generation. People looking for a little more teeth in this re-telling of the chronicle should look elsewhere; however, it is pretty fun, regardless of what you’re expecting and worth a look.