Jack the Giant Slayer
Not that Giant

It may not be time for the Summer blockbusters yet, but the release of Jack the Giant Slayer certainly marks the beginning of what might now be called the Spring blockbuster season.  It used to be commonly accepted that the big budget movies didn’t hit theaters until May, but over the past few years, movies like Alice in Wonderland and The Hunger Games have made the month of March a popular one to release big budget spectacles.  Jack certainly has all the elements: a fantasy story, plenty of action mixed with comedy, and lots and lots of computerized effects.

Based on the tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, Jack the Giant Slayer first introduces us to our hero when he is a young boy fascinated by the stories of giants told by his father.  Across the proverbial tracks, the young Princess Isabelle is equally fascinated by these stories, so it should come as no surprise that the couple’s path would cross (in true Aladdin fashion) when they reach the age of romantic possibilities.  Jack is in the market looking to sell his Uncle’s horse while the Princess is there looking for an escape from palace life.  After a brief encounter, they are pulled apart and Jack finds himself in the company of a monk who offers to sell him some beans for his horse that he can turn around and sell at the monastery for great riches.

Jack the Giant SlayerAfter Jack returns home and is chided by his Uncle for his foolishness, one of the beans is lost under the floorboards.  In the middle of the night, a storm causes the beans to grow into a magical beanstalk, taking Jack and his house up to the highest heights.  As it happens, Jack had a visitor at the time of the incident and the young Princess is soon lost among the clouds while Jack falls back to Earth.  Eagerly joining the palace guard on a mission to retrieve the Princess, Jack suddenly finds himself in the dangerous world of the giants that he had always dreamed about when he was a young boy; only now they are threatening to eat him.

Jack the Giant Slayer turns out to be a relatively entertaining adventure movie, but nothing that’s going to blow anybody’s socks off.  The plentiful special effects, while done well, are nothing memorable.  For that matter, neither are the characters, the action or the humor.  Just one day later, the only elements that really stick with you are the cheesy costumes worn by the King and Ewan McGregor’s strange hairstyle choice.  None of these elements are bad, mind you.  They’re adequate, but that’s about the best you can say for them.

In his first big lead role, Nicholas Hoult of About a Boy fame does do a decent job with the role of Jack, but he’s just not given enough by the script to establish much of an adventuring hero persona.  The script gets bogged down too much in booger and fart jokes as director Bryan Singer cannot quite find the right balance between childish and adult adventure.

Singer’s attempt to pull off this balancing act is best reflected in the character of the main giant.  Known as General Fallon, the giant has two heads; one voiced by Bill Nighy as a menacing bad guy, and one voiced by John Kassir as…well, as what appears to be a horribly stereotypical version of a handicapped person.  The smaller head counteracts the menace of the bigger head and one has to think that he would have been a much more fearsome villain as a one-headed giant.

Also, it had to be a creative choice by the filmmakers to have the giants talk as they could have just as easily been large, scary, mute monsters and the fact that none of the giants bring any kind of personality to the project at all suggests that the movie might have been better off had they just been just that.   As it is, the drama is little when it could have been giant.  This one will help tide us over until the big summer movies get here, but it probably won’t do much to continue the trend of blockbuster March movies.

Jack the Giant Slayer is rated for “intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images, and brief language.”  The giants snack on the occasional human, but other than that this movie is pretty tame.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Jack the Giant Slayer.