Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)


Written by Anthony Sargon

Fairytale re-imaginings are everywhere. Ever since Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" shattered the $1 billion mark worldwide, studios have been turning beloved cartoons and fairytales into "epic" blockbusters with tons of CGI and a fraction of the source material's heart. It's to this reviewer's delight that "Jack the Giant Slayer" fairs significantly better than recent retreads, but to say that it's a necessary or very memorable film would be a stretch.

The story is basically Jack and the beanstalk on steroids. Jack (Nicolas Hoult) is a simple farmer who's fascinated by the legend of King Erik, an ancient king who slayed giants that descended from the sky via a giant beanstalk. After Jack fails to sell his uncle's horse for actual money, he ends up with a bunch of beans, not knowing they're the beans from the legend. The story also revolves around princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) and her rebellion against an arranged marriage to Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci). Lo and behold, Isabelle ends up at Jack's house right before one of the beans gets wet and a ginormous beanstalk erupts and rises to the sky, taking the princess along with it. It's up to Jack and a select team of the king's finest guards to climb up the beanstalk and find the princess before it's too late.

The movie is directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2), and he does a serviceable job of moving the story from point A to point B, but you'd never guess he had anything to do with the film. It could have been directed by anyone, with the final result being exactly the same.

Thankfully, Singer knows how to assemble a talented cast, and "Jack the Giant Slayer" boasts some great performances. Nicolas Hoult gives a heartfelt turn as Jack, and Eleanor Tomlinson is great as princess Isabelle. The true stars of the show, however, are Stanley Tucci and Ewan McGregor. Tucci seems to be having a blast playing the villainous and slimy Lord Roderick, while McGregor lays on the charm as Elmont, the king's most trusted guard.

Something this reviewer found a little underwhelming were the visual effects used to bring the giants to life. They don't look very convincing, and their designs aren't all that inspired either. For a movie that reportedly cost about $200 million to make, it certainly doesn't look it, and that's a shame.

While Singer doesn't bring much style to the proceedings, the man knows how to set up some cool action scenes, and the film's finale will probably blow the minds of most 10-year-olds in the audience. For older and more demanding audience members, the action is fine, but we've definitely been spoiled by "The Lord of the Rings" so blowing us away is a difficult task.

Anthony's Verdict:

"Jack the Giant Slayer" plays it safe and gives audiences exactly what they expect; a simple story sprinkled with big action set-pieces. It won't win any awards, but it's well acted and ends up being more fun than it has any right to be, and it's safe to assume your kids will probably have a blast.

Numerical Score: 6.5/10

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