You’d think by the ubiquitous TV ads for this film that it was going to be a real toss-up as to whether it would be any good. It felt like they were trying too hard to get you to see it. And there’s clearly a LOT of green screen and there could be a lot of that disconnected “watching a video game” type of stuff going on. Fortunately, though, Jack the Giant Slayer managed to avoid that by giving some of the giants more personality than just grunting adversaries.
You’d think by the ubiquitous TV ads for this film that it was going to be a real toss-up as to whether it would be any good. It felt like thye were trying too hard to get you to see it. And there’s clearly a LOT of green screen and there could be a lot of that disconnected “watching a video game” type of stuff going on. Fortunately, though, Jack the Giant Slayer managed to avoid that by giving some of the giants more personality than just grunting adversaries. And the integration of the effects with the live action is a step up, too.
The story itself is taken from the old tale, which in itself, isn’t all that interesting. But in this telling, Jack is still a farmhand just scraping by in his ho-hum life, but here he lives with his bitter uncle who wants him to sell his horse and cart for much needed money. While off at the village/castle, he manages to reluctnatly accept some beans that a monk tells him are really important artifacts that must be taken to the monastary for safe keeping, but he’ll get money for them. Instead, they end up in the wrong hands, of course, and so an ancient war with a race of giants is reignited. Boom.
Surprisingly, Jack the Giant Slayer is actually a fair bit of fun. It’s kind of like a big summer movie that got released in March. It may have drowned in all the really big movies that are slated to come out this summer, but if you throw it in theaters in March, it makes a bigger splash. And that’s a good thing, for sure. Bryan Singer needed a little boost seeing as his last two films, Valkyrie and Superman Returns, were received with mixed feelings.
They really gathered a great cast here. The evil, but really just overly opportunistic, Roderick is played by the great Stanley Tucci. After managing to be in line to marry the princess and eventually rule the kingdom, he decides he wants to rule the world with the giants as his army. He does so by recovering an artifact of a crown, made from various tihings, most importantly the melted heart of a giant. He who wears it, controls the giants. They do his bidding! An army of giants at your command…cool. Just don’t lose that crown. Or, you know, die.
Ian McShane plays the king, and one of his hero guards is Elmont, played to perfection by Ewan McGregor. Jack is quite serviceably played by Nicolas Hoult, all googley-eyed for Princess Isabelle, the lovely Eleanor Tomlinson, who looks pretty awesome in gold armour. Eddie Marsan and Warwick Davis round out the notables.
And despite some parts being a little stock; like a princess that desires to be out on an adventure rather than be cooped up in the castle, and Jack, clearly looking for adventure and falling for the princess; the rest gets points for being more creative and offering lots of that aforementioned adventure. And who doesn’ t love an army of giants sieging a castle? I know I do!
And they give the giants some personality, too. They’re dirty, they fart, they pick their nose, much like you’d expect giants to do, or drunks, but you get some idea of the inner workings of how they think. They have a general, who’s voiced by the awesome Bill Nighy, and has two heads, one of which is none too bright and doesn’t really speak complete words, also like drunks.
The CG is really rather good in Jack the Giant Slayer. Better than most films of this ilk, I think. But they had to make it good seeing as there is a lot of interaction of people with CG giants. But the green screening hre is quite good. And the siege of the castle by the giants is chock full of fun. There’s some wit, only one brief scene of CG violence/gore, but only a moment. Almost every other person killed is done so off screen or they cut just before it happens so they maintain the PG-13 rating. As far as the 3-D goes, well, it’s just fine and all, but I am still not convinced that it’s necessary.
All in all, Jack the Giant Slayer is pretty fun. I had a solid, entertaining movie experience. A firm three and a half kittenhands. This is a fun, fantasy action film. But they were smart to release it in March. It would have gone virtually unnoticed in May or June with things like Ironman 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness coming. So you might still want to check this out on the big screen.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, kinda surprised how much fun this was.