Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) – Review

3 Stars

Bryan Singer, who most notably helmed The Usual Suspects and X-Men: Days of Future Past, engages his inner Spielberg and has fashioned a new-age fairy tale from an old school story. This visually splendid update comes complete with all the bells and whistles associated with big-budget blockbuster filmmaking, but it also has a whimsical humor, and its entertaining as all get out. The ads suggest a The Lord of the Rings type of adventure, but in actuality the product is more akin to The Princess Bride or Pirates of the Caribbean.

Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a farm boy, sent to the market by his desperate Uncle to sell their horse and carriage. While there, the young man comes across a monk, who offers the boy a satchel of mythical beans as a trade. The exchange is done so hurriedly that the guards searching for the fleeing monk never see that Jack now posses the dangerous legumes. The beans are harmless unless exposed to water, which happens almost the moment the boy arrives back home. A massive beanstalk a mile high erupts from the seedling, creating a passageway from our world to the land of the giants high above.

The race of giants are kept in check due to a crown that the humans have kept hidden away, the powers of the tiara are so that gigantic brutes have never attempted to invade the land of the little people. Now, the stalk not only serves as a way up, but also as a way down for the vile high-altitude living creatures. King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) orders that the Captain of the Guard (Ewan McGregor) and Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci), accompany Jack up the enormous root and into the den of giants, to retrieve the captured Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson).

Climbing is only half the problem with the nefarious Roderick, plotting his takeover of the over-sized monsters as a force to use against the king. Tucci’s rogue is a reminder of the same playfulness that Mandy Patinkin oozed in Princess Bride. Jack must rescue the princess, save the kingdom from a marauding force, and learn to believe in himself: standard Star Wars stuff. There are a great number of similarities between the two films, but Singer has sculpted a movie that is uniquely his own. The nearly thirty minute epic scale finale showcases the fully realized reignited war between humans and their monstrous counterparts.

Jack the Giant Slayer isn’t going to inspire a franchise or become a beloved family classic, but it deserves to be appreciated for its lite touch, great special effects, and an up-to-the-task cast. The visual splendor stretches the imagination and the giants are truly a sight to behold, though using Bill Nighy as the voice talent of the leader is a bit uninspired.

Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson

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