Directed by Bryan Singer
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eleanor Tomlinson
Everybody knows the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, so even when the story is altered somewhat as is the case here, there is little point providing a plot summary. What I will say from the outset however is this: I flaming loved this movie!
Like the majority of the film-going public I went into Jack the Giant Slayer with very low expectations; actually disappointed that one of my favourite directors had resorted to churning out a family-friendly, cliché ridden disaster… I’m happy to report I was wrong. This is a film that does in fact play largely to conventions, but in such an energetic, feverishly entertaining way that I was more than happy to abandon any overly critical thoughts after the inventive introduction and be swept away in a grand adventure full of likable heroes, villainous monsters and stunning locations. I’m in no way suggesting this is Lord of the Rings, it’s a film that doesn’t aspire to be, but after recently viewing Oz the Great and Powerful it does suddenly seem worthy of 10 Oscars just for understanding the exhilarating aspects of the genre.
Not since The Princess Bride have I had this much fun watching mythical creatures be dispatched in a light-hearted manner.
The one glaring fault that must be mentioned is the often shoddy look and movements of the CGI giants; whilst they interact with the real environments well enough, problems arise whenever they need to display emotion (often anger), as their facial features aren’t as realistic as they need to be. This is a forgivable issue however, as there really is no other way to translate these characters to screen, and they are helped greatly by some quality voice work and distinct personalities. One giant in particular stood out as my favourite: an old, labouring chef who is tasked with cooking our helpless princess and Chief Guard Elmont – he is of course thwarted, but in his brief screen time provides a great laugh and lasting impact.
I am aware that it may seem I am being overly kind to a movie perhaps deserving of only pedestrian praise, and that the pleasure I felt in viewing it is due mainly to the element of surprise which for anyone reading this review has now been ruined, but I believe that a movie which aims for pure thrills and escapism and nails it squarely on the head is quite a rare thing at present, and I’m happy to lend my support.
Jack the Giant Slayer is big, bold, boisterous entertainment with an opening to the ignite the imagination and a wondrously large-scale third act to initiate applause. The 3D is clear and used to wonderful effect, the story engaging and each character cast perfectly.
4 out of 5 magic beans