"Jack the Giant Slayer" is similar to taking the familiar tale "Jack and the Beanstalk" and sloppily smashing it together with the 1962 film "Jack the Giant Killer." A commoner named Jack (Nicholas Hoult) trades his uncle's horse for beans that turn into giant beanstalks when exposed to water. The beanstalks serve as the sole passageway from our world to the giants towering above us in the sky, who have been aching to get back down to earth to resume their ongoing war with the humans. After Jack gives the adventure seeking Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) shelter in his shack during a storm, a loose bean gets wet and carries Jack's shack along with the princess up into the sky. Isabelle's father King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) sends his best men including Elmont (Ewan McGregor), Crawe (Eddie Marsan), Isabelle's arranged fiancé Roderick (Stanley Tucci), and Roderick's right hand man Wicke (Ewen Bremner) while Jack volunteers his services to rescue the princess and prevent the giants from destroying everyone and everything in the land.
The movie begins with both Jack and Isabelle being told the story of the giants at a young age, but every visual illustrating the tale is pure CG. This wouldn't be much of an issue, but the CG looks incredibly dated. If you've ever played video games and still own consoles that aren't jam packed with wi-fi, hard drives, and endless forms of media then odds are the graphics from older games look pretty cheesy today. In the span of five years or less technology improves dramatically when it comes to computer generation. The special effects in the opening of "Jack the Giant Slayer" look the way Playstation 2 graphics look now. It's not necessarily bad, but it appears to be from a time most people don't care to remember.
While the cinematography is fairly impressive at times as you travel at inhuman speed across a roaming countryside or have this fantastic view of the king's castle as you seem to look down from the heavens, most of the special effects look out of place. Similar motion capture technology used in Robert Zemeckis' CG films ("The Polar Express," "Beowulf," and "A Christmas Carol") was used in "Jack the Giant Slayer" to bring these giants to life. Those effects look fine when the world they inhabit is also computer generated, but look kind of awkward when they're interacting with a realistic world. Unfortunately nothing ever looks genuine as you can clearly tell when a green screen is used and when pieces of beanstalk look plastic when they aren’t computer generated. It just seems like the special effects are one step behind most recent films. Maybe the film sitting on the shelf for eight months can contribute to that.
What's more is that this is supposed to be an adventure, but a dangerous journey shouldn't feel so run of the mill. The film is kind of boring most of the time since it follows "Jack and the Beanstalk" almost religiously and then even the giant kills aren't anything all that great. The film is PG-13, but probably could have pushed for a hard PG. Other than, "bastard," being yelled once and a human being thrown on the ground by a giant on-screen every gruesome moment is shown off-screen. The film doesn't feel dark enough to garner a PG-13 rating, so it results in feeling extremely watered down. Most of the characters aren't given a lot of time to properly portray good and evil. Jack and Isabelle are basically exactly the same character except one is rich and the other is poor, Elmont starts off being kind of smart-mouthed but eventually turns into a cliché soldier, and the gap between Roderick's teeth is way more offensive than anything the character does in the film.
It's more than a little disappointing when it finally comes time for the humans to fight against the giants. Other than throwing bells the size of houses and trees that are lit on fire the giants don't seem to pose much of a threat. There's a scene where everyone is trying to prevent the giants from getting into King Brahmwell's kingdom. There's a drawbridge that the human's are trying to close and the giants are trying to keep open. A giant should be big enough and strong enough to overpower at least 30 men on his own. There are what looks like maybe 200 humans max trying to pull that drawbridge closed and 20 giants trying to keep it open and somehow that's evenly matched for nearly ten minutes straight. Either all of the King's men are hopped up on some ancient version of steroids cooked up with nothing but twigs and berries or those are the weakest giants in anything ever.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" feels so plain and ordinary and only came to fruition to try and capitalize on films like "Alice in Wonderland" and "Snow White and the Huntsman." Chock full of paper thin characters and dated special effects, "Jack the Giant Slayer" is mostly just extremely predictable and seems massively unnecessary. Just think director Bryan Singer is trying to incorporate the same motion capture technology he used in this film on "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Imagine how much of a disappointment that will be if it's anything like this.