One current Hollywood trend is turning fairytales into live action movies with a “twist” added to them. Last year TWO versions of Snow White were released to theaters. Earlier this year “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” came out with little fanfare and now we have “Jack the Giant Slayer” in 3D. With any luck, this movie will put the kibosh on this trend for good because, like most of the movies that came before it, there is not too much to this tale.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” is, of course, based on the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer. This movie does have a young man named Jack (Nicholas Hoult); there is a beanstalk that grew from magic beans; and, there is a giant in this tale. Actually there are GIANTS. Lots of them who are banished to their home in the clouds until a new beanstalk grows right under Jack’s house taking his house and Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) with it. Jack and members of the King’s army climb the beanstalk to rescue the princess, but one of the men has a more devious plan in mind.
Bryan Singer is the director of “Jack the Giant Slayer” and this marks his first foray into 3D filmmaking. The 3D effects in the movie are good. There are plenty of shots of the English countryside and the land where the giants live. Singer provides great depth in directing where the action occurs. He also has some fun by having a few sharp objects coming out at the audience. The accompanying special effects also mix well with the 3D effects.
Unfortunately, the 3D effects are the only real positive things about “Jake the Giant Slayer”. It is unclear who the intended audience is. It is rated PG-13, so the audience should be 13 and up, but the giants are often farting or picking their nose boogers and that humor seems to be more for juveniles. The movie really does feel like it is for younger kids, except the giants can be quite scary and may give them nightmares. The giants do eat some people, but not one drop of blood is ever shown. This is typical of movies made for an audience of young children. If you wanted to bring in a more hardcore teenage audience, you could add some blood and stay in the PG-13 realm. Sometimes the giants are scary and sometimes funny, but the right balance is never achieved in this movie.
The movie does set itself up well. You don’t have to wait long before that beanstalk starts to grow, but the movie never gets a good flow going. Sometimes it feels like everything just stops. There are some good moments of adventure in “Jack the Giant Slayer”, but overall the movie lacks the ability to engage the audience.
Bryan Singer, to his credit, did assemble a decent cast. Hoult just starred in “Warm Bodies” and will re-team with Singer when they make the next X-Men movie. He’s slowly becoming a bankable star. Tomlinson and Hoult don’t have the greatest chemistry on screen, but she shows signs of becoming a bigger star someday too. Stanley Tucci does a good turn as the movie’s other villain, Roderick. He mixes deviousness and slime perfectly to make him a pretty funny character. Finally Ewan McGregor has not appeared this heroic in a movie since his turn as Obi-Wan in the Star Wars movies.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” should kill off the box office competition this weekend. There’s little doubt there, but it will be curious to see if it has much legs after opening weekend and word of mouth gets around. Hopefully this will put a possible stop to possible future movies like, “Goldilocks: Bear Trapper” or “Pied Piper: Exterminator!” Time will tell.