Plot Farm boy Jack (Hoult) follows disenchanted princess Isabelle (Tomlinson) up a magic beanstalk, hoping to save her from the nasty giants who, legend says, live in a world beyond the clouds. Jack is accompanied by some of the king’s men, one of whom has hatched a treacherous plan to bring giants down to Earth — literally.
Once upon a time, Hollywood decided that Greek myths and Grimm folk tales, being out of copyright and widely known, would make ideal source material for big-budget films, full of heroic teens and 3D razzle-dazzle. Aim light-ish, as in Mirror Mirror and Oz The Great And Powerful, and you might entice the Alice In Wonderland crowd; go toward the dark side (Snow White & The Huntsman, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), and you might just get the Twihards. Now, Bryan Singer has thrown his Bad Hat Harry Productions into the ring, grinding elements of Arthurian, Viking and other popular versions of the ‘Jack The Giant Killer’ (the film’s original title) and ‘Jack And The Beanstalk’ tales into a galumphing 3D adventure, which eschews cynical, samizdat demographic engineering in favour of rollicking adventure. But then, so did Jabberwocky.
The opening scenes strike an uncertain tone, using deliberately unfinished computer animation to describe, in bedtime story form, the time when giants roamed the Earth, connected to their lofty homeland by humongous beanstalks, until Erik The Great (or ‘Erik The Terrible’, as the giants know him) severed the link, banishing them to legend. Given that the film was pushed back nine months to allow more time for special effects work, this deliberately dodgy sequence does not bode well for the rest of the movie. Neither does the fudged storytelling of the establishing scenes, in which Jack (Nicholas Hoult) and Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) meet at the market, where Jack trades his horse for some ‘magic’ beans which, he is told, Gremlins-style, not to get wet. Alas, the sudden rainstorm that causes the princess (conveniently) to take shelter at Jack’s place also works its magic on the beans, carrying Isabelle to the land of the giants.
Answering the hero’s call to action, Jack heads up the beanstalk to save his beloved, accompanied by the king’s champion (a dashing Ewan McGregor, enjoying himself enormously) and Isabelle’s slippery betrothed (Stanley Tucci). This treacherous climb is, ironically, where the film finds its footing, mixing comedy and action with a confidence the set-up sorely lacks. It is here that we meet the giants themselves (including their leader, a two-headed monstrosity mo-capped and voiced by Bill Nighy), rendered in the not-quite-real CG style of the creatures from I Am Legend, giving some of their sequences the feel of the narrative bits from a videogame. Luckily, the Big Unfriendly Giants are a hoot, individually characterised like big bad versions of The Hobbit’s dwarves, so that even when they don’t blend well with the live action footage, they’re enormous fun.
Where Jack The Giant Slayer really stands head and shoulders above other recent fairy tale adaptations is in its sense of adventure, which is closer in spirit to The Princess Bride and Shrek than the try-hard Twilight wannabes. The film really hits its stride after the ‘false ending’ at the close of Act Two, when — and this won’t be a spoiler for anyone who has seen the trailer or TV spots — the defeated giants invade the kingdom, tossing around soldiers like kittens, using windmill sails as throwing stars, and launching a full-scale, imaginatively staged assault on the castle walls. Singer and his cadre of screenwriters (including long-time collaborator Christopher McQuarrie) throw everything they can at this extended sequence, capping the film with a thrilling climax on a suitably gigantic scale.
Verdict Far from the giant mess you’d expect from the delayed release, late title change and a production history as muddled as the source material, Singer’s tall tale is snatched from disaster by an all-hell-breaks-loose third act.
RE: "Son, those beans have the power to change the world as we know it."
Seems this didnt get a decent reception which I think is a shame. I felt it was the same kindof film a younger me would have loved. While I didnt love it, I did enjoy it. Doesnt avoid some of the cliches (Boy meets girl....) but its a fairy tale and they are full of them.
Great cast, everyone is having fun with it, not least Ewan McGregor who runs away with it. Shame the final battle ends so abruptly but where else was it going to go? Better than the Hobbit. ... More
Bryan Singer seems to have lost his creative mojo – either that or he’s lost within the creative miasma that is modern Hollywood . This is just standard kiddie friendly CGI fare, designed to be enjoyed by one and all on a quiet Sunday afternoon in front of the TV. Unfortunately, Nicholas Hoult spends far too much time preening himself and comparing cheekbones with his leading lady to fully convince as Jack and Ewan McGregor seemed to be phoning it in although you get the impression t... More
The biggest problem I found with this film is that Nicholas Holt didn't really have the chops for leading man and never set the screen even slightly alight when he was on it. For the size of the budget and for a film so reliant on CGI it was not really that well constructed with the giants never really being believable as actually being there. It is diverting enough but exceptionally mediocre. The best thing was Ewan McGregor hamming it up. ... More
Fairyta le as a new genre looks like it’s going to have a short lifecycle. The marketers in Hollywood were clearly looking to cash in on the success of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien franchise. Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsmen, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters have struggled to make the huge profit forecast against the budgets allocated. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty) and Pan beckon but the disappointing opening weekend of Jack: ... More
A 'nice' little Easter holiday film that neither taxes the brain nor tires one's arse (see The Hobbit). It just never feels like it fully kicks-off. Even the fun final battle feels light. The cgi is pretty lame in this day'n'age too. ... More
Ultimately, 'Jack The Giant Slayer' comes off as an Aldi-brand 'Lord of the Rings', and it's a real shame because the potential's there for so much more.
It's well intentioned, but it wastes a lot of time going down well-trodden pathways. ... More
I found it way better than expected! Empire's review describes it pretty well. For me it's a 3,5/5. Also, much more enjoyable than "Oz The Great and Powerful": less cheesy, less childish, much funnier. ... More
In the Kingdom of Cloister, both Jack, a young farm boy, and Princess Isabelle, are fascinated by the legend of Erik, an ancient king who defeated an army of invading giants from a realm in the sky. Ten years later, Jack goes into town to sell his horse to support his uncle’s farm and defends Isabelle’s honour from a group of thugs. Isabelle’s father King Brahmwell wants her to marry Roderick against her will. A monk steals some magic beans he stole from Roderick as collateral for Jack’s horse,... More
The final 3rd act does indeed save it. McGregor is ok - although he's character is, like, the worst foot-soldier ever! he basically fails at every task he's meant to - get the princess!, recover the beans!, get the crown back! ... More
This is really rather poor. OK, perhaps one shouldn't expect too much from a proposition like this, but the characters are paper thin, the story is lazy, the dialogue is naff, the special effects are ridiculously cartoonish, the pace is way off and the photography is dull. ... More
Interviewed for the Metro newspaper, director Bryan Singer had stated that fairy tales have become the new superhero movies, due to the recent successful wave of fantasy flicks like last year’s Snow White and the Huntsman and early this year, Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful. Although Singer is still tackling the world of superheroes (with the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past), he takes a crack at the land of fairy tales with his CGI extravaganza version of Jack the Giant Killer.
Saw it this morning as part of a Sky Rewards early preview. The film is great fun for both adults and kids alike. The cgi giants are excellent with lots of humour. The review is correct in that the beginning is a bit hammy, but it quickly find it's feet and the action never stops after that. ... More