I’ll admit it: I only saw this movie for Ewan McGregor. He is my second biggest celebrity crush (just after Harrison Ford), and I’ll see almost anything he’s in. I also feel that with the amount of times Ben’s included the sentence “I only own this because [insert actress] was in it/gets naked” in a review, I should get to say it at least once.
This is a movie that I normally would have little to no interest in. After three viewings I still don’t care about it. Jack the Giant Slayer is an OK romp through the traditional fairy tale, it’s missing that special something that would make it great. What is this elusive missing element? I’m really not sure, but I think it’s that the story is too true to its source material.
Jack came out around the same time as Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and on the heels of Snow White and the Huntsman, two movies that put their own spin on the fairy tales they are drawn from. I’m not suggesting that this film needed to go as dark as those two. I’m absolutely fine with turning a well-known folktale into something the entire family can enjoy (I’m actually confused that Jack is rated PG-13. I don’t recall anything about it that would be inappropriate for a five year old.). It just would have been nice to see the filmmakers put more personality into the script.
There are some great performances, but not great enough to create the spark needed to make the film special. Obviously I will say nothing bad about Ewan McGregor’s acting. I will say that his mustache and goatee combo do nothing for me, but every guy’s allowed a bad facial hair day now and then. Stanley Tucci makes a great bad guy. I’ve become a big fan of his after his performances in Easy A and The Hunger Games series. He just always looks like he’s having a blast. The only two actors who do not truly impress are the leads, Nicholas Hoult (Jack) and Eleanor Tomlinson (Princess Isabelle). Both were good, I just feel like neither is really ready to carry a film.
Jack the Giant Slayer feels like a lackluster movie put into production to capitalize on the fairy tale film trend. There seemed to be little thought put into the script, and the result is boring.
This is an average film that I expected a bit more from considering the solid cast and it was directed by regular X-Men contributor Bryan Singer. These re-imagining of classic fairy tales have become common after the success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and Jack the Giant Slayer continues that trend by adapting the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Nicholas Hoult plays Jack, a lonely orphaned farm boy who is sent into town to sell his Uncle’s horse. While there, Jack meets Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), a princess, and begins to develop a crush after defending her honour, before being saved by Elmont (Ewan McGregor), the captain of the king’s guard. While in town, Jack is robbed by a monk on the run from Roderick (Stanley Tucci), the king’s advisor who is looking to bring down the king (Ian McShane) by opening a portal to the land of giants and controlling them to destroy the kingdom. The monk leaves Jack with some magic beans which when added to water grow into giant beanstalks that connect our world to the land of the giants. When the princess ends up at the top of the beanstalk, Jack and the king’s soldiers must go to the top, into the giant’s world, and rescue her. Roderick also joins them, hoping to enact his plan of world domination.
Jack the Giant Slayer is just ok. There are some good set pieces, particularly when the giants storm the kingdom during the finale. Nicholas Hoult is likable enough as Jack, and Ewan McGregor is always fun. The standout in the cast though is Stanley Tucci as the evil Roderick. He brings a certain something to all of his roles whether he is the host of the Hunger Games, or the father of Emma Stone in Easy A. Tucci is usually a highlight in any film he appears in, and Jack the Giant Slayer is no different.
I really wanted to like this film more than I did, it just seemed like there was something missing. I didn’t really buy how Jack was given the magic beans by the monk, that whole sequence seemed force to move the plot along.
Jack the Giant Slayer is a fun enough adventure, but is let down by average visual effects and a bland story that wastes the talents of its top cast and film maker.