Jack the Giant Slayer. (2013). MPAA: PG-13 (for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images, and brief language. Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, and Stanley Tucci. Written by Mark Bomback, Dan Studney, Darren Lemke, and Christopher McQuarrie. Directed by Bryan Singer.
What is it with classic fairy tales getting revamped and updated? Snow White had two last year. I didn’t see, nor do I have any intention to see Mirror, Mirror, but I did see Snow White & the Huntsman and I only mildly enjoyed it. Also we’ve had Red Riding Hood, Beastly, and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Now we get a retelling of the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, and how is it? Not too bad. Actually, it’s pretty dang good. This may just be the best of the recent string of fairy tale revamps. Maybe it’s the fact that director Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2: X-Men United, Superman Returns) is in charge. Or maybe it’s that Nicholas Hoult is on fire with his second film this year, the first being the surprisingly good Warm Bodies. Or maybe it’s because the supporting cast includes the likes of Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games) and Ewan McGregor (The Impossible). Whatever it is, this movie impressed the heck out of me.
When the title Jack the Giant Killer was released along with the first trailer, I audibly laughed and dreaded the day it was released. Then the title changed to Jack the Giant Slayer and I heard Bryan Singer was set to direct. Now the former statement didn’t really change my interest level, but the latter certainly did, as I like Bryan Singer’s work. My initial thought to that directing choice was, “Brilliant.” However, even after knowing that, I still thought that by the trailers the CGI looked cheesy and outdated. Outdated by like ten years. But, I gave Singer a shot and it sure paid off. Yes, the effects do look cheap and outdated, and that is perhaps the biggest flaw of the film, but the voice acting for the giants more than make up for the flaws, as the cast makes them sound very funny. Also, it takes a while for the giants to actually get set up, and the movie takes its time setting up the story and characters, which is a good thing. And yes, as every clichéd movie does, a love story is played into the plot, but in Jack the Giant Slayer I actually liked it, mainly because of the chemistry between Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson, who is very good.
The main problem I had with this film is the script, which, while telling a very cool storyline, felt slow at points to the point where I was begging for it to pick up and do it fast. I’m not addressing the beginning portion that had no giants, because I don’t think giants and action are needed to make a movie good, but sometimes it dragged and the dialogue was uninteresting.
FINAL VERDICT: Bryan Singer’s adaptation of a classic story is, in a nutshell, a good time at the theaters. Not a masterpiece of its or any genre, but still an entertaining ride that provides some good characters, very good performances, (especially those of Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci), an interesting twist on the story, and some appealing giants who demand many laughs, even if their special effects are very outdated. (B)