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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer Movie Review

Imagine my surprise to learn that a 3D IMAX extravaganza dedicated to re-inventing Jack and the Beanstalk would draw the likes of Stanley Tucci and Ewan McGregor. These two talents play major roles in Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Slayer", though neither is in the lead. That honor falls to Nicholas Hoult, and to a lesser extent, Eleanor Tomlinson as Princess Isabelle.

This re-imagining of the famous fable turns it into a war between grotesque giants who live in a land suspended above the clouds. They are a particularly nasty group and Singer tries to make this clear by having them picking their noses and farting and showcasing other talents.

At its outset we meet Jack as a young boy who loves reading Jack and the Beanstalk. Both his parents read him the story over and over and he re-reads it himself until it is committed to memory. We fast-forward to Jack as a young man who is in town trying to sell a horse and cart. There he spots Isabelle, and he defends her honor when she is manhandled by some brutish chaps. At that point Jack has no idea who Isabelle is. He soon finds out, though, and love is in the air, even though they are from different classes.

Bad guy, Roderick (Tucci), has a plot to take over the kingdom by unleashing the evil giants and bringing them down to earth. When the first beanstalk grows, it takes Isabelle up through the skies. A rescue party is dispatched by the king to rescue his daughter, but the king is unaware that Roderick has other plans.

The rest of "Jack the Giant Slayer" is a battle between good and evil, with no shades of gray necessary. Even though it veers from the original Jack and the Beanstalk, it is still at its heart a traditional fairy tale.

Singer does a very good job and the special effects are clearly up to snuff. Even though it is clear every step of the way how everything will play out, it still never fails to deliver a bit of tension, as well as good deal of old-fashioned fun and thrills.

My only quibbles, and they are relatively minor, are the performances of Hoult and Tomlinson. Both have a vacant model-like feel to them, but to be fair, their roles don't leave that much room for Academy Award caliber performances. I also found it odd that this race of thousands of giants had no females living among them. Yeah, I know it's a fairy tale. The biggest issue I had was the fact that 3D never quite seems to be worthwhile to me. As usual, it is most effective when showing graphics announcing that the film is in 3D before the film. Nevertheless, "Jack the Giant Slayer" is a good ride and well worth it for both the kiddies and the adults. It did not slay me, but it never bored me either, and in this genre, that is quite the compliment.

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