Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer Poster

After a number of delays and a name change (It was originally called Jack the Giant Killer), Bryan Singer‘s reimagining of the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk is finally coming to theaters.

The story begins with an account of events that have, at this point, faded into legend.  Many years ago, in an attempt to reach Heaven, a sect of monks used dark magic to grow a beanstalk into the sky.  Think Tower of Babel, but greener.  Instead of Heaven, though, they reached a land in between, inhabited by fierce giants.  A war was waged for control of the earth below, and only ended when a magical crown was forged that allowed the giants to be forced back where they came from.  The beanstalk was destroyed and the crown and beans were lost to time and legend.

Fast forward an unnamed number of generations and we meet Jack (Nicholas Hoult), the quintessential farm boy, and Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), a princess who is the medieval twin sister of Disney’s Jasmine.  It’s pretty obvious from the get-go just what kind of adventure the two of them are going to have.

Through circumstances that twist the original tale’s narrative, Jack unwittingly reminds everyone that certain legends are true, losing Isabelle in the process.  He joins the King’s (Ian McShane) rescue party which includes Isabelle’s faithful bodyguard (Ewan McGregor) and the King’s advisor (a be-maned Stanely Tucci) who has his own agenda.  Bill Nighy, sounding a lot like Davey Jones, voices the main head of the two-headed Giant general/king.  At this point, little time has been wasted setting up the narrative and we get into the real meat of the story.

Surprisingly, for being yet another reimagining of a classic fairy tale, Jack the Giant Slayer manages to feel like neither a pointless retread or an over-modernized soulless fluff piece.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there is something very reminiscent of those classic fantasy films of the 80’s about this story and the film is all the better for it.  There’s a bit of camp about the whole thing, but the actors seem to just be having so much fun and fully embrace the tale they’re a part of, you can’t help but do the same.

There is a certain degree of predictability that comes with the territory of being based on a familiar story – with that story being a fairy tale complete with requisite fairy tale elements.  It’s a good sort of predictability though.  Sometimes all you want is the story you think you’re going to see.  Jack the Giant Slayer promises a rollicking adventure of Jack and the Beanstalk with a bit more grit and involved story than the original, and that’s what it gives you, no questions asked.

This is pleasant family fare, though some parts may be a bit disturbing for the youngest crowd.  It does have a (soft) PG-13 rating after all.  It’s not high cinema, or the blockbuster of the year, but it is completely and thoroughly enjoyable.  It doesn’t play up needless drama, the story is easy to understand and chugs along at a good pace.  One recommendation I would make is to avoid the 3D.  It darkened the scenes considerably and in most instances didn’t add much to the experience.  In some cases it just looked bad.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Hats

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Mrs. Hamster Says:

“I really enjoyed this movie – it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be.  The ending sequence too I thought was very clever.”

Trailer:

Jack the Giant Slayer opens in 3,500 theaters, March 1