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‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ review: Yet another gritty fairy tale

By | March 01, 2013 | Arts & Entertainment, Blog
Jack the Giant Slayer stars Nicholas Hoult as the title character. Warner Bros. Picture/MCT

Jack the Giant Slayer stars Nicholas Hoult as the title character. Warner Bros. Pictures/MCT

For anyone who has ever wondered what a CG giant picking his nose looks like—boy, is this movie for you.

“Jack the Giant Slayer” stars Nicholas Hoult as the title character and Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabelle, the princess of the kingdom. The story paints them as equals in drastically different settings. Of course, upon their first meeting, they become infatuated with one another, but they are not allowed to be together — as per usual with these kinds of movies.

As a whole, there is not much creativity in this script. Everything you think will happen, does happen. It is a very paint by numbers story, but that should not come as too much of a shock.

“Jack the Giant Slayer” continues the current Hollywood trend of remaking fairy tales — “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Mirror Mirror,” “Red Riding Hood,” and TV shows like “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time” just to name a few. It was Jack’s turn on the list and “Giant Slayer” is the outcome.

The largest problem with this film is a dissonance in tone. It does not seem clear for whom this film was made. There are scenes of solid action or mild suspense that could make this a respectable entry into the fantasy genre. However, five minutes later the tone shifts when a giant picks his nose or belches.

This film is rated PG-13. The kids who would enjoy that kind of humor should not be seeing this movie anyway. They would also likely be frightened by some of the suspenseful sequences. People die in this movie and not just in implied fashions. Characters get squished and eaten. Granted, it does not show everything, but it is still a lot for kids.

It ultimately feels like two movies. The story does not help with this, either. It seems like everything is coming to a close around the 75-minute mark, but there are still 39 minutes left.

The second chunk feels like a totally separate movie. All the cutesy kids stuff is left aside, and it becomes just a fantasy action flick — what it should have been the whole time.

Bryan Singer is the director here, and he has done much better work than this. Perhaps best known for “The Usual Suspects” (which is a brilliant film) and the first two entries into the X-Men franchise (X-Men and X2), he is capable of making a good movie and dealing with fantastical elements in stories.

The acting is the upside here. Hoult, as the star, can certainly carry a film — as proven in “Warm Bodies” and a smaller role in “X-Men: First Class.” He has a bright future ahead of him.

Tomlinson is fine, but nothing too special. Though they set her up to potentially be Jack’s equal, she is quickly relegated to the role of “damsel in distress” and not given much to break her out of that mold.

The rest of the cast members are stronger than their material, though. Ian McShane appears as King Brahmwell, Isabelle’s father. His performance is solid, but nothing memorable in comparison to the rest of his career.

Another villain of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise makes an appearance in Bill Nighy as the lead giant, General Fallon. His voice performance is good. Unfortunately the CG used to make the giant was less than impressive. His performance as Davy Jones looked better and that was in 2006.

Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci are much of the same. McGregor seems to be channeling “Attack of the Clones” era Obi-Wan Kenobi as head knight Elmont, with semi-witty humor and even a direct “Star Wars” reference for those who listen closely. Not many in my screening got it, but those who did found it hysterical.

Tucci plays Roderick, the typical bad guy who wants to take over the kingdom. The role is nothing special, but because Tucci plays the role, it is not a bad performance.

Ultimately, “Jack the Giant Slayer” is a confused film that is redeemed by a strong cast and momentary sequences of action-packed fun.

“Jack the Giant Slayer,” a Warner Bros. Pictures  release, is rated PG-13 for intense scenes of fantasy-action violence, some frightening images and brief language. Running time: 114 minutes. Grade: C      

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