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“Jack the Giant Slayer” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

February 28, 2013

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 4.40.32 PMIn 1962, United Artists released a middle budget film produced by Edward Small and directed by B-movie filmmaker, Nathan H. Juran, called “Jack the Giant Killer”. It was cheap, cheesy, and profitable, for a B-movie of it’s time, it even earned the respect of being lampooned by Rifftrax.

Over 50 years later, “X-Men” filmmaker, Bryan Singer has brought us a newer and BIGGER vision to the classic Jack & the Beanstalk fable in “Jack the Giant Slayer” [changed to ‘slayer’ because apparently ‘killer’ is dirty word]. While the movies story comes off as hokey as, if not hokier than Juran’s picture, “Slayer” still finds it’s way to entertain families.

When Jack (Nicolas Hoult), a young farmhand, accidentally opens a gateway to the world of Giants an ancient war restarts as the giants, thought only of as legend, try to reclaim the world they lost centuries ago. Jack is forced into a fight to not only save his own life, but that of those in the kingdom and that of the princess, Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who’s thrust herself into an adventure she’s been yearning for ever since her Queen mother (Tandi Wright) read her the stories of Giants during her youth.

Singer hasn’t done a big budget special effects film in about seven years, last was “Superman Returns”, which I still feel is a heavily underrated movie. He has a good grasp with the visual effects use in the film, the giants look great, making them each nastier and grosser than the next. I will say that when the human character interact with the giants, something about it seems off. I’m aware that performance capture was used to create the giants, but it feels too much [at times] like human characters are thrusted into a cartoon and not a realistic looking world. But, perhaps the filmmakers are playing to that advantage, being that the movie is based off a children’s fable.

The cast is ok, the one that stands out the most, and I’m sure many will agree with me is Stanley Tucci as the films human villain. His bad guy character is pretty generic as bad guys come; he wants power and control. Enough said, I’d usually be bothered by the development of a character like that, except two things save it from being a total eye-roll. One, Tucci hams it up perfectly, I wish there was more of him, and two, my theory why he’s such a generic villain, plays to the advantage that this is based off a kids tale! Most villains in those kinds of stories are like that, you can only development a bad guy in a fairy tale oh so much before it becomes self-indulgent.

Some of the other characters have cliche moments, but the one that bothered me the most was the Princess character, Isabelle. Coming off of last summers Pixar hit, now Oscar winner, “Brave”, her character resembles too much of that character. She doesn’t wanna be a Queen, she wants to go on adventures, yada yada yada. The only difference is, in this movie mother is dead, the King father (Ian McShane) is alive, and is naturally controlling over his precious daughter. Though to the films credit, the king is handled better than most scenarios would lead you to believe. His relationship between Jack is handled more appropriately, he doesn’t scoff Jack at all because he’s a commoner.

The movie isn’t fantastic in the story department, but it is harmless fun, and if you’re tired of all the Oscar talk and feel like seeing something different, I would recommend “Jack the Giant Slayer”.  It’s an amusing ride; kids will love, and there’s enough in there that will entertain the adults. Not to mention, the ending is actually one of the most clever moments of the whole film, and screams ‘sequel’, and if I’m being too blunt, that would actually be a sequel I’d wanna see, if they’re going in the direction I think they are. And, before I forget, for you hard core fantasy geeks, Warwick Davis makes a clever cameo, that for me rings back to his cult hit “Willow”.

GRADE: B

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 1, 2013 11:42 am

    Good review. It’s a bunch of fun and that’s all it’s meant to be watched for. Nothing more, nothing less.

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