A modern twist on the bedtime story classic proves to be giant fun.
Like most films that get sudden release date change, the worry was there that Bryan Singer’s Jack The Giant Slayer was going to be a giant disappointment. When released in the US it claimed the top spot at the box office, on the surface this seemed like a victory but with lukewarm reviews and a steep drop from the charts this soon turned into a disaster.
Taking the well known bedtime story and expanding the world, Singer’s spin on the classic tale is an unusual beast as it’s too dark for younger kids and perhaps too light and happy for the Twilight market. Similar to fellow fairytale adaptation Oz The Great and Powerful, Singer’s movie embraces the spirit of adventure and isn’t frightened to have fun with the material.
Nicolas Hoult is an ideal choice for the modern Jack, a hoodie wearing farm boy who becomes infatuated with the rebellious Princess Isabelle when he spots her at the market. Duped into trading his horse for a handful of magic beans, Jack soon finds himself falling in love with the princess but they are swiftly parted, when a sudden rain storm unleashes the power of the beans and she’s carried away on a giant beanstalk. Leaving his home behind Jack goes in pursuit of the princess and winds up in the middle of a war between man and giants.
In a world filled with impressive CGI, Singer wisely hasn’t been distracted by the technical side and has populated the supporting roles with an assortment of fine actors, Ewan McGregor is on glorious form as the King’s champion Elmont, Bill Nighy is motion captured and voices two headed General Fallon, Stanley Tucci is the scheming Roderick and Ian McShane as the disapproving King Brahmwell. Great casting aside the first 45 minutes moves at a leisurely pace, keen to sell the romantic element critical time is spent developing their longing glares and this slows down the narrative which might try the patience of the younger viewers.
The epic scope to the third act more of less saves the entire film from the two star wasteland; in a CGI frenzy a small band of Knights face off against an army of giants. Breathtaking in its audacity it delivers an action packed finale. Had the previous 90 minutes been made with this gusto and crazy imagination the end results would be very different. Cult classic The Princess Bride has clearly been a jumping off point for the slight postmodern tone, Singer’s film is less successful at creating a whimsical feel but does succeed in making something that will be more fondly regarded in years to come.
Overall it would be difficult to label the movie a success, the uneven tone at times struggles to find its footing but it’s not the complete mess some would have you believe. When The Mummy was released back in 1999 critics mostly panned it, however audiences enjoyed the light hearted adventure and made the film a success. It’s unlikely Jack will climb to the box office heights of The Mummy, it may even struggle to recoup its near $200 million budget at this rate which is a real shame as despite its flaws it’s a spirited adventure that has just a hint of magic .