Movies: Jack The Giant Slayer

Even knowing that Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie are the director and writer, respectively, of of the great film The Usual Suspects, did the same on the new Jack The Giant Slayer, didn’t make me run breathlessly to the theater to see it. After all, fairy tales have — I hoped — run their course in the last several months. Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman were pretty wretched and Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters was the flop it deserved to be. So now comes a retelling of the “Jack and the Beanstalk” story.

Climbing up the beanstalk, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) quickly learns that being a hero can be very hard work.
Photo: © 2012 – Warner Bros. Pictures

Is it good? In some ways, absolutely. There’s the nifty way Jack finds to dispose of the evil giant, a most interesting cast and some OK effects. The film is cast most interestingly. The 3-D is ho-hum (Should that be “fee-fi-ho-hum?”). On the whole, it’s decent fantasy fare for the PG-13 crowd.

In this telling, the beanstalk — a huge, gnarly, twisted vine — pops out of the ground unexpectedly leaving Jack (Nicholas Hoult) and Princess Isabelle (Elinor Tomlinson) most surprised and determined to have an adventure. So they climb it. Uh-oh. Now the trouble starts.

The special effects, unlike the 3-D in the movie, are fun. The giants, led by two-headed General Fallon (Bill NIghy) are fearsome. They’re also prone to silliness — one even most un-subtly picks his nose. But these are not nice guys. The royalty, on the other hand, are all very nice. King Brahmwell (Ian McShane), Isabelle’s betrothed, Roderick (Stanley Tucci) and the knight Elmont (Ewan McGregor) represent the best traditions of chivalry.

The problem with Jack the Giant Slayer is, simply, that it is a little bit of lots of things — a mix of all those recent fairytale movies along with a few special effects and 3D that suffer in comparison to other efforts. But, in the end, while momentarily diverting, Jack the Giant Slayer is noisy and busy. Yes, it is kind of fun, but if you go, be sure to bear in mind the PG-13 rating. It is gory and violent.