Bryan Singer has done what I thought was impossible with his latest 3D action/adventure film Jack the Giant Slayer. He’s managed to make a fun movie that never takes itself too seriously, often relying on the light and easygoing humor to help move the film along without much trouble. Jack the Giant Slayer looked like a flaming piece of shit from the lowest bowels of hell, but the film’s actually a great little weekend getaway to the cinemas if you’re in the mood for something light and silly.
Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a bright young individual with a head full of old stories that were told to him by his father when he was a boy. The problem with these stories is that he’s never really grown out of them, choosing to continue to read and search for an adventure when all his uncle asks of him is to work and help save the family house before it’s too late. But Jack can’t give into living a lifeless existence, so he sets out on what he thought was a regular day and ends up running into the princess of the kingdom.
Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) is in the same boat as Jack; looking for a way out of her boring life in hopes of having her own adventures too, but her dad (Ian McShane) has plans for her to marry the slimy Roderick (Stanley Tucci).
Isabelle and Jack meet several times by complete accident or predetermined destiny (if you believe in that sort of thing) and on one particular encounter Jack drops these mysterious beans that were given to him back in town by a weird friar and all of a sudden a giant bean-stock grows up and into the skies, closing the gap between the giants from Jack’s bedtime stories and the humans down on Earth.
Everyone’s heard of the folktale at one point in time and director Bryan Singer sort of runs with that mentality throughout the entire film. He’s assuming most have heard the story, thus allowing him to flex it out a little and get creative. Sometimes his creativity ends up flat, like the use of “fee fye foe fum”, but occasionally he strikes comedic gold between his stellar cast of both older and younger stars.
Stanley Tucci and Ewan McGregor certainly do great things for a film that I was ready to peg as a complete time-waster. Tucci is villainous and just downright unlikable as Roderick, trying his best around every corner to kill whoever stands between him and complete control over the entire world. He rarely oversteps the boundaries of the character and instead keeps him planted in a folktale land where being both dumb and evil walk hand-in-hand. But it works exceptionally well and much better than it rightfully should.
Ewan McGregor plays Isabelle’s right hand soldier Elmont with one hell of a haircut and a refrained amount of charisma. We know McGregor can play the part just fine, but he never tries to overdo his welcome or become too much of a joke. He’s simply there for occasional comedic relief and a bit of fighting when the mood sees fit.
Rounding out the cast is Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson as Jack and Isabelle. Admittedly Hoult is quickly growing on me as a young star that’s charming and almost always an easy target to root for. His Jack is simple, with his character’s traits laid out in the open, but he still runs with it the best he can. He’s not nearly as effective as his role in Warm Bodies, but here he’s more-than-capable of making you want to watch his adventure and hope he makes it out alive and with the girl.
Eleanor Tomlinson doesn’t have as much room to grow on you as Hoult, but she does just fine with the material. Her character is confident when she needs to be and even though the relationship between Jack and Isabelle is manufactured rather plainly on screen, I was still naturally interested in seeing more of it unfold and more of Bryan Singer‘s flavorless, but still enjoyable direction.
And that’s exactly where Jack the Giant Slayer rests with me. Against all odds, since I almost wanted to hate it, I couldn’t stop really enjoying it. Absolutely nothing about it is highly original, or anything that we haven’t seen used in this manner, yet Singer keeps the flow going, with a good amount of action and a digestible story.
The 3D is completely pointless and not worth the upgrade at all, and most of what I liked about the film be considered the silly or dumb aspects, but it didn’t stop me from cracking an occasional smile or finding myself generally entertained throughout the whole thing.
There are a few moments of cringe-worthy filth, like the stupid double-headed giant that just blabbers on and on, and the film’s ending, which wraps up a bit slower than it should, but for the most part Jack the Giant Slayer works as something with simple intentions.
It doesn’t shoot for the stars or attempt to knock you back a few feet, but it shouldn’t offend you either.
Jack the Giant Slayer – 7.5/10