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Jack the Giant Slayer
Genre Fantasy

Jack the Giant Slayer is a hybrid reworking of the cult classic, Jack the Giant Killer, and the fairy tale, Jack & The Beanstalk. Individually, these stories are simple and too insubstantial for a feature film. By combining the special effects action, medieval fantasy romance of Jack the Giant Killer with the humble, imaginative, magical zero-to-hero quest of a lowly farm boy in Jack & The Beanstalk, Bryan Singer has created an action-adventure of epic proportions.

The only problem is that both these origin stories did not prioritize characterisation, relying on special effects and incredulity instead of character to accomplish their missions. Singer has fallen into the same trap, leaning too heavily on CGI instead of building a bridge between the characters and the audience. While the cast are likable and more than capable, the little people in Jack the Giant Slayer remain little people...

Rising stars, Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson, are padded by a stellar supporting cast in: Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane and Bill Nighy. While each actor doesn't seem to hold back, we're never completely convinced they are who and where they say they are. The comedic undertones of Tucci's villain, the deadpan royalty of McShane, the chipper charms of McGregor and the second head on General Fallon... Jack the Giant Slayer nestles on the fence between pantomime and epic.

One gets the impression that they were trying to imbibe the same swashbuckling spirit as The Princess Bride with the epic spectacle of The Hobbit. However, it never pans out. The characters aren't as charming, detestable or funny and the over-reliance on CGI dissolves any attempts at portraying larger-than-life personalities. While the CGI is of a high standard, the balance tilts in favour of unreal as a skyscraping beanstalk and an army of giants weigh in.

The film's enjoyability comes from simply accepting these two-dimensional characters for what they are and embracing the adventure at the heart of this fantasy. You may not warm or sympathise too much for the characters, but you're able to get lost in the imaginative and spectacular visuals. Singer has turned a children's fairy tale into something with adult appeal by leveraging the tale's sinister edge. We always witness the violence, but it's strongly suggested as the cannibal giants snack on some of the humans.

It's become a trend to adapt classic fairy tales over the last few years. Thankfully, Jack the Giant Slayer is one of the better ones, remaining entertaining right up to its cheesy set up for a sequel. The parallels with The Hobbit give the film more credit than its worth, but also give you an idea of what the genre mix offers up in terms of scope, production values and entertainment. If you get the opportunity, rather see it in 3D.

The bottom line: Enjoyable

6.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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