Jack the Giant Slayer Review - An Unmemorable But Satisfying Piece Of Family Entertainment

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER The journey from production to release has been a troubled one for Bryan Singer€™s Jack the Giant Slayer. Formerly titled Jack the Giant Killer, the latest in a steadily growing list of fairy tale adaptations was initially scheduled for a Summer 2012 release date before being shifted to 2013, supposedly to brush up on the film€™s special effects (although perhaps this was a wise move when you consider the money-guzzling efforts of The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises). Ultimately, Singer€™s reimagining manages to overcome these problems and more to deliver an unmemorable yet satisfying piece of family entertainment. Jack the Giant Slayer€™s opening gambit deals with some exposition smartly as we are treated to a bedtime story which chronicles a time when giants roved the earth, before €˜Erik the Great€™ exiled them by destroying the link between the two worlds. 10 years later we meet Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a farm-boy who gets caught up in the beanstalk journey when he is given a pouch of magic beans freshly stolen from advisor to the King, Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci). Before he can return them, rebellious Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) flees her castle and shows up on his front door in the middle of a rainstorm, with talks of having an adventure. Sure enough, one of the magic beans takes root beneath Jack€™s house, sprouting a beanstalk which carries Isabelle upwards to the realm of the giants. Ever the hero, Jack volunteers to join the rescue party €“ despite his fear of heights €“ and is accompanied by the dashing Knight Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and the villainous Roderick. jack_the_giant_slayer_image03 It takes a while for Jack the Giant Slayer to find a harmonious balance in its storytelling between the serious plot beats and the more childlike elements. The first act of the straightforward narrative is particularly muddled, and the cheesy dialogue €“ some of which emphasises just how thinly drawn many of the characters are €“ doesn€™t help matters. Fortunately, once Jack and co start ascending the beanstalk, things start to improve. Whilst the narrative may divide audiences, the visuals of both the earthly kingdom and the giants€™ realm are undeniably impressive. The giants themselves come off as more cartoonish than realistic, but it suits the light-hearted tone of the film which €“ with uninspired gags like farting and bogies €“ Singer is clearly going for. In this regard, Bill Nighy€™s instantly recognizable drawl is a perfect fit for the two-headed giant leader. Sadly, save for one other unfriendly titan, the giants are uninteresting beasts that are only present to advance the plot. For the most part the action sequences leave much to be desired, but the inevitable showdown between humans and giants €“ some of which has been spoiled in trailer previews €“ does succeed in delivering a thrilling climax. On a side note, Jack and the Giant Slayer marks Singer€™s first foray into 3D filmmaking and whilst there are one or two moments where the format shines, the film does not warrant the extra price tag. Nicholas+Hoult+i+Jack+the+Giant+Killer Although Hoult is competent enough in the lead role, there is never a sense that he€™s €˜in the lead€™ €“ that is to say the actor has a very unassuming presence about him here, with scenery, sub-plots and co-stars getting almost as much screen time. He does share some chemistry with Tomlinson, but a lack of emotional depth means the relationship never really catches fire. Thankfully, Tomlinson€™s Princess is not just the damsel in distress, getting in on the action in the final act. The standout performance here actually comes from McGregor€™s Elmont, who is clearly having a lot of fun spouting plenty of humorous witticisms throughout. Together with the almost always jovial Tucci, they are responsible for some of the film€™s better moments. Jack and the Giant Slayer is not a game changing fantasy adventure, nor does it strive to be. What it does do is make good use of the revered source material and, combined with some lively performances and an impressive final act, it makes for a likable film that will especially cater to family audiences. jack-giant-slayer-poster Jack the Giant Slayer finally hits UK cinemas on March 22, 2013.
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