Jack the Giant Slayer: Giant Fun
By Sandra Olmsted
The opening of director Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer is a homage to the Hollywood Golden Age adaptations with sequences that directly connect the film with the textual version of the familiar fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk. The same sequence connects the young Jack, the son of a serf, with young Princess Isabelle because each has a parent reading their child the myth of the giants who live in the clouds but had once come to destroy the earth. Ten years later, Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a noble young man, orphaned by the plague, has been sent to town to sell a horse and cart by his uncle.
Meanwhile, the wild child Princess Isabelle has escaped the palace to mingle with the people she will some day rule. When the local thugs accost the incognito Isabelle, Jack steps up to defend her honor, not knowing that she is the princess until the palace guards, led by as Elmont (Ewan McGregor), the quintessential knight in shining armor, arrive.
By this time, another plot is unfurling in the palace as Roderick (Stanley Tucci), Isabelle’s betrothed, discovers that the relics — the magic crown and the forbidden beans — associated with the previous defeat of the giants have been stolen. As Roderick and his psychopathic henchman pursue the monk they suspect is the thief, Jack is coerced into selling his horse to the monk for a hand full of “magic” beans. The monk warns Jack not to get the beans wet and promises that the friars at his monastery will pay Jack handsomely for delivering the beans. Once at home with the beans, Jack incurs the wrath of his uncle who throws the beans on the floor; one falls down a crack in the floor.
While the uncle heads to town hoping to get the horse and the cart back, Isabelle slips out of the palace again, and when rain starts, she takes refuge in Jack’s home. Of course, the huge rainstorm causes the first beanstalk to grow, and Isabelle is trapped in the house as the beanstalk rushes skyward while Jack falls to the ground. Jack is alone, trying to save the captive Isabelle and Elmont from the farting, nose-picking giants, who are dreaming of ways to cook the humans. Meanwhile, Roderick reveals his true, and megalomaniacal, intentions: He has the magic crown which can control the giants, even Gen. Fallon (Bill Nighy), the CGI-created, two-headed leader of the giants. After a giant falls to earth, the King gives the order to cut down the beanstalk, believing he is trapping his beloved daughter in the clouds with the giants while saving the kingdom and protecting his subjects.
The story set up is complicated, yet the delivery is fast paced and clear, and the visual effects are terrific, although the 3D isn’t used as effectively as it could be except in a few battle scenes. Although the world of the giants raises a number of questions, the world created for the humans is complete and logical. The cast of characters seems planned by the marketing department to appeal to all ages and groups and includes young lovers from opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, entertainingly maniacal bad guys, the wise King willing to sacrifice his heir to save his people, the valiant Elmont who stays behind to hold off the giants, and amusingly grotesque monsters. Still Singers’ Jack the Giant Slayer has a plenty of movie magic to enchant the audience with thrilling adventure and story enough to sustain the action. Credit is also due to the screenwriters, production designers, cinematographer, and the entire cast.
Jack the Giant Slayer, a Warner Bros. Pictures release of a New Line Cinema presentation, is rated PG-13 for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language and runs 114 minutes. Jack the Giant Slayer is in theaters now and is a must see for the loads of exciting battles between giants and little people — the humans!
More of Olmsted’s reviews are available at www.thecinematicskinny.com.
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