Review: Jack the Giant Slayer / Cert: 12A / Director: Bryan Singer / Screenplay: Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, Dan Studney/ Starring: Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson / Release Date: March 22nd
Don’t expect to come out of Bryan Singer’s latest action/adventure, Jack the Giant Slayer feeling like you got your money’s worth.
Stuck with a flimsy plot and predictable script, stars Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, Warm Bodies) and Eleanor Tomlinson (The Illusionist, Alice in Wonderland) just aren’t compelling enough to carry this film, especially during an unnecessarily long beginning that only serves to establish how the beanstalk sprouts up in the first place. They do the best job they can with what they’re given but they can’t do all the work.
When the plot finally kicks into gear, the movie becomes infinitely more enjoyable, which isn’t saying much. Also, a word of “effects-stickler” caution: if you MUST go see this in theaters, spring for 3D. While the beanstalk is a fantastic display of CGI (once it finally shows up, grumble grumble), the giants themselves look so cartoonish and fake we were grateful for the glasses. The 3D effect gives the entire movie an unreal, animated sheen which makes the live-actors mesh more smoothly with the fake ones.
And unfortunately, that is really all those effects serve to do. Save for the first glimpse of the giants, which is a pretty cool shot to see in 3D but lasts maybe five seconds, the rest of the effects are a little underwhelming. You are going to see numerous shots of rippling water and <insert pointy weapons here> coming towards your face, which are things we’ve all seen before.
Those shortcomings aside, the film still provides some lighthearted fun. That’s due in large part to the cast obviously enjoying themselves. The acting brings to mind the 2007 film Enchanted, the kind of movie where you know the entire ensemble is having a blast playing fantasy characters battling mythical odds. And no one enjoys themselves more than Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci.
Tucci plays the ridiculously obvious villain, Lord Roderick – a turn which reminds you of Christopher Sarandon’s Prince Humperdink or Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham. He’s pure camp, but he makes the film a little bit more fun to watch. However, its McGregor’s Knight in Shining Armor, Elmont, who really steals and carries this movie. Not to mention, he looks really good doing so. Anyone over the age of 15 watching this movie will probably wonder the same thing we did about an hour in: “Wait, why isn’t the princess in love with Elmont?”
Nicholas Hoult attempts to hold his own as Jack, but with almost every character written somewhat one-dimensionally, it’s up to the actors to breathe life into their roles and Hoult isn’t given much to play with. He’s the classic hero/underdog who overcomes his fear to save the day and the girl, and that’s pretty much all he gets to do.
Decent acting aside, Jack the Giant Slayer is a huge disappointment. There’s just not enough going on in this movie to ever make you feel like it was worth the trip to the box office. If you are hoping for a beautiful, CGI epic full of magic and adventure – this isn’t it.
Expected Rating: 7 0ut of 10