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Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack The Giant Slayer

In Theatres: 
Mar 01, 2013
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 53 Minutes

Bill Nighy plays the two headed giant, Fallon, by not only lending his voice but also his body in motion capturing.

We all know the story: A poor, down on his luck farm boy acquires magic beans that soon builds a passageway to a mythical land of giants by way of a massive beanstalk. So what more needs to be told to better understand the story? More characters? More action? Perhaps a way to show off some impressive graphics? In a way, these are all major factors in Bryan Singer’s newest picture, Jack The Giant Slayer. But do they work coherently?

The movie opens on a young Jack learning of the famous giants and how they fought Erik the Great. In an animated fashion that surely attempts to duplicate the “Deathly Hallows” sequence in Harry Potter, we learn with Jack that Erik the Great defeated a giant, obtained his heart and fashioned it into a crown that will control the giants, forcing them back into their land to never contact mortals again. Ten years later, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) trades his horse for a sack of beans to trade for currency. But before he can cash them in, a bean gets wet and takes his house, along with the beautiful princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), far up into the sky. With the help of the King’s (Ian McShane) trusted men, the brave and heroic Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and the slick and mischievous Roderick (Stanley Tucci), Jack travels up the beanstalk to save the princess. But what else waits at the end of this beanstalk?

I’ve always been a little confused with Bryan Singer as a director. Granted, he’s brought us great action movies like X-Men and the classic thriller The Usual Suspects, but he’s also been responsible for the mediocre Tom Cruise Nazi picture, Valkyrie, and the bomb that was Superman Returns. As a director, he seems all over the place with no clear trademark defining who he is. Regardless, he is responsible for some great action sequences, so Jack The Giant Slayer seems fitting, I suppose. Especially because the picture doesn’t really know what is either. In a way, I can see Jack The Giant Slayer having a decent shelf life as a family epic that treats the audience to great graphics. Sadly, JTGS doesn’t appeal to many beyond that.

It’s hard to tell what Singer is aiming for here, up until a scene where Jack rescues Elmont and Isabelle from a hungry giant preparing a literal plate of pigs in a blanket. This is a family movie. We’re not going to see any constant action after action sequence. If anything, we’re holding off until the final moments to really unleash the action. Sure enough, that’s exactly how JTGS plays off. At an overlong running time of almost two hours, Singer and his cast run out of steam to bring the ending to it’s exciting climactic ending. There are moments where humor briefly helps pick up the pace, but the most of JTGS will have most audiences wondering what it is they’re watching. This might credited to the long production this picture had. Not only did it change directors back in 2009, Singer brought on writing partner Christopher McQuarrie to rewrite the original script that was credited as an adult look at the classic fairy tale. The end result, I can confirm, is not an adult look at all. In fact, it is quite the opposite, streamlined with giants farting and repeated dialogue to beat you over the head that not enough dialogue could be thought of.

With that aside, a lot can be said about the production of this action filled fairy tale. The graphics of the giants borderline from alright to fantastic, definitely a by-product of using the same technology Cameron used for Avatar. Some giants have faces that could have benefited greater from more-animated looks while some hit the mark in a great fashion. And that final action sequence I mentioned earlier? Probably the finest showcase of the VFX that JTGS has to offer. It’s a great sequence that could have saved the picture if it just wasn’t so damn confused by itself.

Another thing Singer got right was the casting. Nicholas Hoult proves once again that he is capable of carrying a picture on his shoulders, bringing charm and bravery to Jack. Eleanor Tomlinson plays pretty and rebellious pretty well but doesn’t do much else. Thankfully, her role doesn’t call for much more than that. Ian McShane is a King, which works, I guess. His beard is majestic enough for two kings, so I’ll take it. Ewan McGregor is forcing himself into my top 5 favorite actors with his casting choices and his take as Elmont is no different. He is a hero who isn’t THE hero of this story and he embraces it. Also, that hair do is ridiculous and I love it. I’ll take Stanley Tucci as a villain whenever I get the chance, even if he doesn’t fully embrace the ludicrous element of his character. It’s still an evil Tucci and we could do a lot worse than that.

Jack The Giant Slayer is an VFX heavy picture that will probably have a great shelf life with families and children. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have enough to grasp the older audiences and keep them engaged. Just another example of missed marketing attempts.

Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
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