Jack The Giant Slayer Review
Sometimes movies get released that have a few things going for them, but also fumble the ball quite a bit as well.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" is a movie that is going to feel like a glass half-full to many audiences. It's a PG-13 movie that is surprisingly kid-friendly, and despite some good-looking CGI giants, the rest of the special effects are rather cheap-looking. The actors do what they can with the material that is given, but the material doesn't amount to much.
Nicholas Hoult plays Jack, a young farm boy who develops a crush on Princess Isebelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), a girl who wants to break out of her royal shell and see the world. If only her father and king (Ian McShane) would let her. Isebelle sneaks out of the castle and stumbles upon Jack once more, and suddenly water mixes with magic beans Jack had to grow bean stocks. I would explain why and how Jack got the magic beans, but how get obtains them is so lazy and pedestrian that the film-makers should have just run across the camera saying, "Look, we need Jack to have these magic beans for the story we are going to tell, don't mind us while we pass them on!" Hoult and Tomlinson get pretty decent chemistry off of each other, but Tomlinson's character never really becomes a "character," she is a type. She is only included in this story so that Jack has someone to rescue from the giants.
Jack gets the beans is just as convenient as his participation for the quest to rescue Princess Isebelle. What qualifies Jack to go with a handful of knights up the bean stocks makes very little sense, the king seems to trust him and its very convenient for the plot, so Jack goes. Ewan McGregor plays a leader of the knights on the expedition to save Isebelle, and McGregor is one of the few saving graces in this movie. He gently etches in the nobility and quirkiness of his character, and it works very well. Stanley Tucci also shows up as Roderick, the man Isebelle's father has in line to marry her, and who has a piece of ancient magic he plans to use with the giants for sinister reasons and those reasons happen to be positively bland. Seriously, Tucci's subplot killed a lot of the film for me, simply because it was so predictable and lazy. Tucci does okay with what he has, but his character was very poorly-written.
Another weird choice with "Jack the Giant Slayer" is how odd deaths are handled. Deaths are handled so broadly, so overly-Shakespearean that I laughed out loud at them. It came across so pathetically unrealistic to me when a character pulls a knife out of his chest, revealing no blood on the blade, and proceeds to scream wide-eyed. It felt like watching a different movie. Another odd choice is when there are not two but THREE points where it feels the movie is coming to close, but it doesn't. It keeps trucking along into one big action scene that ends up boring. When a giant versus human war is boring, you know something is unnaturally wrong. Like I said above, the humor for this movie seems completely out-of-place. The film feels like they aimed for a family film, yet there are scenes of head squashing and killing. In the end, the choices made in "Jack the Giant Slayer" seem to be made by monkeys smoking marijuana.
The design of the giants further proves the point that the filmmakers were aiming for a younger audience. They are so absurdly created that you can almost hear childlike laughter in your mind. There is also a slapdash quality to it all, because they look like creatures from many different other CGI movies made for kids.
Okay, so the movie had some good performances, some okay CGI, and Ewan McGregor. But it also had unneeded subplots, bad narratives, kid humor and one ending too many. This movie painfully needed an editor at least, to clean up some of the boredom from this production. I definitely think its a problem when an hour and fifty-six minute long movie feels like a two hour and fifty-six minute long movie.
FINAL GRADE: C