NICHOLAS HOULT EWAN MCGREGOR ELEANOR TOMLISON STANELY TUCCI
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER
Stupid is defined as: “Tediously dull, especially due to lack of meaning or sense”. That would be precisely the way to describe former and future X-Men director Bryan Singer’s latest action adventure. In a failed attempt to recreate the classic fairy tale for both adults and young children, Jack the Giant Slayer takes very simple humor about farts and snot and borrows heavily from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings to make one stupid movie that likely won’t end up pleasing anyone, except for those who enjoy simple jokes.
Coming by some magical beans, Jack (Hoult), a parentless, poor farm boy is eager for more than his country life has to offer. When his uncle scolds him for losing their only horse for a few beans, he scatters them across the floor. When one bean reaches water, their entire house is carried away up into the sky. The princess (Tomlison) finds herself in distress and need of saving as Jack and the rest of her protectors climb the fast growing beanstalk to realize that all the legends of giants are true. Giants like to eat tiny humans and once again are given the opportunity to destroy the world of man.
If I could ask Singer one question, I would like to know how the land of giants exists above the clouds (where the oxygen is thin) and appears to be floating, yet when on land everything looks like normal forests. My second question would be why the King, played by Ian McShane, is dressed like the King from the Burger King commercials. Sure it’s fantasy, but the startling number of inconsistencies for the sake of just throwing it into the story is astounding. Like, why is McGregor’s character the only one with a 2013 trendy style haircut?
Singer’s approach with the beanstalk (the signature and most fascinating element of the original story) is conceptualized as this monster vine that grows from land to sky in about ten seconds. Instead of opting for something mysterious that might gradually grow, creating wonder and allure, it’s just big, loud and obnoxious. In one scene, McGregor’s Elmont character is arguing with Roderick (Tucci), exclaiming he can see how the story ends; mind you this is only about 45 minutes into it and even the characters seems to understand the level of predictability. Hoult was much more interesting playing someone dead than he is here playing someone with a pulse.
Final Thought – Bland beans.
Grade D+ By: Dustin Chase
Dr. Donna Copeland’s
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER
This fantasy based on the popular English folk tale goes much farther than the traditional story, and contains all the special effects the filmmakers could muster. In the original version, Jack lives with his mother and foolishly trades a cow for some seemingly worthless beans. After she throws them out in disgust, and they grow into a huge beanstalk that reaches to the sky, curious Jack climbs it and finds himself in the home of a giant. Jack manages to climb the stalk several times, con the giant’s wife into giving him food, steal items from the home, and eventually steal a hen that lays golden eggs. The current film inserts an age-old conflict between giants that live in the sky and human beings, a king and a princess for Jack to have a romantic interest in and a noble reason for climbing the beanstalk, and a valuable crown that upon sight makes the giants subservient.
Some versions of the traditional tale have made the giant out to be an evil one who steals from the common folk to justify Jack’s stealing from him. This new update brings in grotesqueness and boorishness as well, such as grunting, farting, belching, nose-picking. Presumably, this is for the younger set to giggle at. It has warm story-telling moments with parents that will appeal to them as well. For older children, it has elements of adventure, honor and betrayal, romance, and coming-of-age elements. I agree with my colleague’s comment after the screening, that focusing on two different age groups is a drawback because teens and pre-teens are likely to see it as too juvenile, and younger children may be frightened by the violent scenes. I’m not sure who will be interested in the last scenes showing a battle in the castle; the story probably should have ended when those who were able to descend back to earth returned safely.
The cast is noteworthy, with Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, and Eddie Marsan. Nicholas Hoult is convincing as Jack, and Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabelle the princess.