Dir: Bryan Singer
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy
Synopsis: The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when Jack, a young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of a princess, opens a gateway between the two worlds
Fairy tales adaptations have become more popular over the last few years. Whether they are family-friendly, Disney-fied retellings, darker tone myths (Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth could be consider one) and revision from Red Riding Hood or Alice in Wonderland. But now comes Jack the Giant Slayer (originally titled Jack the Giant Killer) which at times feels like a combination of all the previously mentioned but also trying to be it’s own thing.
The movie stars Nicholas Hoult (seen recently in Warm Bodies) as the titular Jack, a farm boy who must rise to the challenge when he inadvertently opens a pathway to the land of the giants, sending his love-interest, Princess Isabelle (Tomlinson), into their dangerous world. When her father, King Brahmwell (McShane) finds out that her daughter is missing and is up the beanstalk he sends her guard Elmont (McGregor) with his men and a shady Roderick (Tucci). Of course Jack offers to help and despite him being a “simple farm boy” Elmont decides to take him.
The performances are generally strong, but like the rest of the movie, they are a mixed bag when it comes to some of the tones. Tomlinson and Hoult have great chemistry as both sharing desire to have some adventure. The always reliable McGregor and Tucci play a bit the comedic roles but also have their moments when they have serious moments. Tucci always plays a great “lovable ass” character and this is no different. I don’t know what it was about McGregor’s Elmont at the beginning but he felt a bit cartoony but changes later on in the movie.
Tomlinson plays the princess that doesn’t want to be stuck in the castle and wants to get to know the people she can eventually rule over. Hoult plays Jack really well and makes us care what happens to him. Hoult shows his acting chops once again and is starting to become one of my favorite actors and that he can be a true star.
Nighy voices the main villain giant General Fallon that despite the giant CG design (I’ll get to that in a bit) creates a dramatic, and in moments legitimately scary, villain. McShane finds the perfect balance between heartfelt, offbeat and funny playing the king/father character which is nice to see.
Now the giants who are…not really that special. There are really only three physical different looking giants; General Fallon, which has two heads (for some reason), a giant with an afro, and an almost not necessary rival to Fallon, Fumm. Besides them all the giants pretty much look the same especially near the end when they’re wearing their armor to fight the humans. The design of the giants works on only a few occasions but other than that the effects are put into the amazing looking landscape of the giant world.
The movie has a pretty interesting a cool opening it that he shows the tradition of storytelling. It opens with Jack and Isabelle listening to the story of the defeat of the giants as told by their respective parents. It even has a pretty cool animated sequence showing the history and what is to happen. That intertwining sequence plays later on in the movie when the two are grown up and talking to their father (Isabelle) and uncle (Jack).
All in all, Jack the Giant Slayer does have some really fun moments and doesn’t fall into “just being for kids” kind of movie. The movie does jump around a lot between genres which makes it hard to really get into because once you get use to one you have to adjust to the other.
Jack the Giant Slayer
3.5 out of 5