Jack the Giant Slayer
Last year, I reviewed Mirror Mirror and claimed it as very unfunny and dated. The movie was a poisoned apple that would put anyone to sleep. I talked about how fairy tale parodies were a relic of the early 2000’s and that people these days would rather have darker fantasy stories. Now I’m going to say that there is still a market for a lighter fairytale. I’m not referring to animated Disney movies like Tangled (though I happen to like this one). Thinking back to films like Willow and The Princess Bride, I took a lot of joy from watching a movie that wanted to tell a fantasy, but also light hearted. What Mirror Mirror didn’t understand was that you need a funny script for a charming story to work.
Turn to other fairytales that haven’t been adapted (or at least in a while), you will find Jack and the Beanstalk. The fable about a young man climbing up a towing plant to battle a giant and rescue a girl he liked is a story I happen to remember better then other short stories. I’m glad the director Brian Singer found the magic beans to create the epic Jack the Giant Slayer. Here I have finally found a pretty good, light-hearted fantasy.
Sometime before the renaissance, the movie opens up on twenty-year-old Jack (played by Nicholas Hoult) who is working as a farmhand for his uncle. He’s been told to go to town and sell his horse and a cart for some gold. As luck would have it, he runs into a young woman who happens to be a princess is disguise. The royal guards reveal her to be the king’s daughter Isabelle (played by Eleanor Tomlinson) and return her to the castle. On his way out, Jack gives his horse to a monk in exchange for magic beans in good nature, thinking the debt will paid back. Later in the evening, Isabelle visits Jack by chance as the beans he dropped soon erupt in a fantastic scene of the beanstalk growing.
Isabelle is trapped in the house as it continues to descend upward, while Jack is left below. Upon discovery by the king, he orders a group of men to climb the beanstalk to get his daughter back. Leading the group is Elmont (played by Ewan McGregor) who is also joined by Jack and Lord Roderick (played by Stanley Tucci). The climb takes them to a land in the sky that is home to a giant race that may have more plans then eating the princess.
What I like about Jack the Giant Slayer is the fact that the movie doesn’t try too hard. People may complain that the story is too predictable and straightforward, but that is all I wanted. I simply wanted to hear this version of Jack and the Beanstalk, and I was surprised by how entertaining it was. The best way to describe this movie is like watching a live action animated Disney movie. You know what’s going to happen, but you’ll enjoy what you see.
The greatest strength is the giants and their world. Each giant has their own look and design that makes it easy to tell them apart (I like how their leader is the only two headed monster). Rather then building a castle, the movies goes the extra effort to show the land the giants live on and how they live with each other. The digital imagery was stellar, as you see every ugly detail of the monsters, right down to the warts. The movie is accompanied by some good acting from our leads, who actually have pretty good chemistry. They both look for an adventure and the magic seeds have given them a giant adventure.
I’ll give this four and a half beanstalks out of five. As it is light hearted, Jack the Giant Slayer makes for a fun adventure fantasy without being too scary and violent. So if you parents are looking for a movie to take your children to (at least over six), then this fantasy will give you some fun feelings growing right inside of you.