Craig's Movie Breakdown: "Jack the Giant Slayer"
on 2013-02-27 12:48
Movie Review: "Jack the Giant Slayer" -
“Jack the Giant Slayer” isn’t the first collaboration between director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie. The two originally worked together on the low budget “Public Access” in 1993, the instant classic “The Usual Suspects” in 1995, “Apt Pupil” in 1998, and Tom Cruise’s “Valkyrie” in 2008. McQuarrie was brought in to re-work the screenplay by Darren Lemke and later by Mark Bomback. Singer is also no stranger to fantasy as he’s done two of the best “X-Men” films but also the worst “Superman” film. “Jack” has been in development for quite a while, ranging back to a year ago when Warner Brothers decided to pull it to work on special effects.
Very loosely based off the children’s fairy tale, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is an 18-year old farm boy who at market manages to not only charm the princess of the kingdom (Eleanor Tomlinson) but get his hands on some sweet magic beans. But when those beans grow into a stalk that carries the princess away to a kingdom of giants, Jack and the king’s guard, led by Elmont (Ewan McGregor), must climb in order to save her before the cannibalistic giants realize that they also have a way to lower themselves back into the human world and start snacking. They also must contend with the king’s power mad adviser, Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci), who looks to use the giants to gain the throne for himself.
It’s rare when a gigantic weed is the highlight of a film but such is the case here. Singer gets the best action sequences out of that tall stalk, whether he have characters dangle, swing, slide down, or hold on for dear life as the thing comes crashing down, it’s a thrill to watch. But I don’t want to take too much away from the giants here either. This of course is all leading up to the hungry giants invading the human world and the ending gives us what the film continually promises, a huge raid where the big CGI-effects attack people walled up in a castle ready to do battle.
Just outside of the few action set pieces interspersed here, I don’t see what else we have to talk about. The effects work on the giants looks cartoonish but I believe that’s the point. They come across as big, ugly, gross, and a little frightening and I’m assuming kids will get a kick out of them. But there isn’t a lot here that’s funny, it feels slow every time the action ends, and other than a scene where one giant wraps up Ewan McGregor like a pig in a blanket and prepares to cook him it doesn’t seem like it’s looking for many fun ways to use the premise either.
Nicholas Hoult, who we saw previously as the most handsome zombie ever in “Warm Bodies” earlier this year, is again a very handsome presence and he does a fine job in a blandly written hero role. McGregor brings dashing bravery to the role of Elmont, while Tucci has a good time playing a dastardly villain. Bill Nighy, who we saw lend his voice to promising effect to Davy Jones in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, does the same here with the leader of the giants and I liked the choice. Another “Pirates” star, Ian McShane, who played Blackbeard in the fourth film, also shows up here as the king but its little more than a paycheck performance.
Is “Jack the Giant Slayer” a bad film? No. Is there anything special about it? Not really. It’s simple, adventure filmmaking that kids will probably get into more than their parents