Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

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No false advertisingAndrew LIKE BannerYou can't put a label of false advertising on Jack the Giant Slayer.  There's a guy named Jack.  He slays giants.  The man doesn't do this for a living, but over the course of almost two hours he will kill a giant or two.  In fact, the rate at which he kills giants, be it through craft or surprising brutality, certainly earns him a slayer title.  Ballyhoo for him.

However, this isn't a review solely gauging truth in advertising, if so JtGS would pass with flying colors.  So as far as the quality is concerned it's an amusing little film.  Odd is the age when I can say little in relation to a nearly $200 million film poising itself for blockbuster status, but such is the age of the omega-million opening weekend.  Jack wasn't able to light box office receipts on fire, but he'd have a much more comfortable time whirring comfortably in the DVD players of families all across this great world just looking for a way to pass an evening with smiles.  Honestly, that's not so bad.

McGregor is dashing and oh so fun.

McGregor is dashing and oh so fun.

I was doing a lot of smiling throughout the film, and not much else, but a gentle pleasant feeling accompanied me the whole time.  The story is a blending of the fairy tale most of us are probably very familiar with, Jack and the Beanstalk, and the differently worded Jack the Giant Killer (please don't mistake this as the Asylum production of the same name as I almost did - cardboard robots will be in your future if so).  The blending creates an interesting storytelling touch as the "everything will be ok" reassurance of the fables most of us grew up with and the "spirits will feast on your flesh and happily pick at your bones" lessons of deterrent in the original Cornish recreation.

I have to wonder what passing this fairytale through an olde Polish lens would look like, but it might stretch the abilities of the PG-13 rating.

Back to this film, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) grew up listening to his father tell the story of the men who scaled beanstalks and disrupted the gods.  The gods, in this case, are very angry giants who like their privacy and come to enjoy the taste of human flesh even more.  Right across his medieval town Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) also aged listening to her mother tell stories of the giants.  In Jack it instilled a sense of adventure and heroism and in Isabelle a predilection toward wanderlust and getting captured.  I admit, I was hoping that there would be the tiniest bit of a gender reversal with the two roles, but there's little harm in the way the fantasy plays out for the both of them.

Predictability is a sin of the film but I can forgive it since the king's wardrobe comes from the David Byrne School of Armorcrafting.

I can forgive some of the film's sins since the king's wardrobe comes from the David Byrne School of Armorcrafting.

Jack goes out to sell a horse, ends up with some beans and a runaway Princess, and after taking an unfortunate tumble from a quickly rising stalk is enlisted by the king to find what happened to his skyward daughter.  This gives director Bryan Singer ample room to fill the supporting roles with people who want to cut loose and have some fun.  He succeeds wildly in this regard, with actors like Stanley Tucci and Ian McShane hamming it up wonderfully as fax-medieval royalty.  No one is having nearly as much fun as Ewan McGregor though who relishes every "Tally-ho" his overly gallant, but still good-hearted, knight gets to utter.

That's the secret to what success the film has.  It ends in another one of those army clashing against army battles where the only unknown conclusion is how long the fighting will last until the good guys win.  But in the meantime the performers are all having a blast while Singer puts some fun and sometimes inspired details into the background.  Details like the giants wrapping whole, live pigs in dough for the oven made me giggle in spite of myself, but moments like the way the water cascades off the side of the giants floating homeland to create clouds are wonderful.

There's not much else to JtJS but there doesn't really need to.  This is the sort of film that Singer could have comfortably created without the mega-million dollar budget behind him because the greatest scenes play with a natural sense of danger and beauty when it comes to fairy tales.  Give it a home if you're looking for a nice way to spend an evening.

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Tail - Jack the Giant SlayerJack the Giant Slayer (2013)

Directed by Bryan Singer.
Screenplay written by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, Dan Studney.
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Ewan McGregor.

Posted by Andrew

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