With a budget that makes the towering giants look small, does Jack the Giant Slayer deliver?
X-Men director Bryan Singer raises enough money to save a third world country from poverty but he spends it on a blockbuster and we all think this is OK… Gotta love how the world works.
That freaky kid from About a Boy (Nicholas Hoult), Stanley Tucci and Ewan McGregor team up in a modern take on Jack and the Beanstalk that sees our young peasant climbing the oversized vine to save a pretty princess.
It sounds incredibly familiar because it is. We’ve all heard some version of the story, but this doesn’t necessarily stop us from wanting to see it play out on the big screen (I was keen!).
Disappointingly however, the film does little to reinvent the story with shallow characters, and a script that seems to ‘rip off’ lines from everything from Lord of the Rings to Star Wars (I mean really; having Ewan McGregor say the famous Jedi quote “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” is hardly original).
The force is far from strong with this one, with the poor script quite possibly to blame for the film’s lukewarm reception: characters undergo no development and the plot is predictable.
It is CGI-heavy with some poor (and often bizarre) attempts at gross out humour by the giants.
BUT WAIT! It’s not all bad!
The cast is attractive and likeable, and though none are given any opportunity to flex their major acting muscles, it’s still enjoyable watching them enthusiastically toy with the sometimes playful dialogue.
The prologue (though ushered in by the worst acting I have ever seen by young Jack and his father) explores a history to the giants and the beanstalks that adds some welcome weight to the story.
The costumes are indulgently theatrical; they look fabulous and add to the comedy – as does the hair and makeup (surely Ewan McGregor’s new fabulously flamboyant hairstyle in every scene is intentional?! Please tell me it is intentional….!)
This leads us to perhaps the film’s greatest downfall: is it tongue in cheek or not? At times it is reminiscent of The Princess Bride or Robin Hood Men in Tights with cheesy, over-the-top humour that appears entirely deliberate, yet this is punctuated by moments that appear to take themselves utterly seriously. As an audience member you are left unsure of the film’s intentions and thus are reluctant to laugh in case you do so inappropriately.
Singer would have benefited from going all or nothing: if it is intended to be a silly romp then launch yourself into it Mr Singer. If not; then don’t indulge the injections of stupid humour as it’s merely confusing! Thank you good sir!
Basically, Jack the Giant Slayer is hardly impressive, yet it is no worse than the hundreds of other mainstream blockbuster attempts that flood our screens each year. Though riddled with imperfections, it’s an enjoyable watch and has perhaps been a little ‘hard done by’ by U.S critics and box office figures.
Take your sons; they’ll love it.
With a budget of around $200million you can’t help but wonder if the studio will break even on this one…
Jack the Giant Slayer hits Aussie screens March 21st. I rate it 5 out of 10 stars.