Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer Movie Review

Several dark fairy tale revisions have come out in the past couple of years. Alice in Wonderland, Red Riding Hood, and Snow White and the Huntsman have been darker, edgier retellings of well known fantasy stories. While they aren't at fault for having female protagonists by any means, I'm glad we got a fairy tale movie with a male protagonist in Jack the Giant Slayer (2013).
Jack's (Nicholas Hoult) family farm is near ruin and goes to sell his horse at the castle village. A strange monk gives Jack a small bag of magical beans as collateral for promised money in exchange for the horse. That evening the runaway princess Isabella (Eleanor Tomlinson) arrives at Jack's cottage to escape the rain. After one of the beans falls between the floorboards, the cottage is caught in a giant beanstalk growing miles high. Isabella is trapped in the cottage while Jack falls to the ground. The King (Ian McShane) orders the leader of the elite guard, Elmont (Ewan McGregor), to lead some men up the beanstalk to save his daughter, Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci), a noble meant to marry the princess, but seems to have ulterior motives, and Jack accompany them. At the top they discover the legendary realm of the giants, but when Fallon, (Bill Nighy) the leader of the giants, discovers the humans, he plans to use the beanstalk to reclaim to the land below.
Jack and the Beanstalk has always been a favorite fairy tale of mine. I'm delighted to say that this version is a exciting, original, and entertaining adventure. Like Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer has all the elements you expect from the original tale; selling farm animals for magic beans, gigantic beanstalks, man eating giants, the "Fee-fi-fo-fum" line, etc. It's a respectable adaptation of the original fairy tale while still throwing a bunch of new twists and turns at us, yet the new elements still seem like the stuff of classic fairy tales and don't seem out of sorts in the movie.
Jack the Giant Slayer was directed by Bryan Singer who is known for directing or producing the three good X-Men movies out of the five that are currently out. Like his other movies, Jack the Giant Slayer was very visually based and special effects intensive. Yet like the [good] X-Men movies, there is a nice balance of story and visual effects. There are several points in the movie I just had to step back and marvel at the detail in the visual effects. Not everything was CGI, though; we saw some gorgeous countryside scenery and some very elaborate sets. Exterior shots of Isabella's castle had to be digital imagery, but most of the interior shots looked like actual sets, and they were very impressive.
The characters aren't the main focus of the movie, the visual effects are. The giants are all computer animated, but they still move in a lifelike way, and as if they have a weight to them. It's pretty distracting when a computer-animated creature in a movie moves like it weighs nothing; it's like the movie screams, "Hey! This is fake!" But even things like the miles-high beanstalk being chopped down were well animated. A beanstalk that grows miles high is going to be extremely heavy and will likely cause considerable damage when chopped down. Jack the Giant Slayer did all that and more. It was genuinely fun to watch.
Jack the Giant Slayer was a fun movie. The characters were predictable, but were played by some excellent actors. The special effects were amazing and well executed. There is lots of action, a few laughs, plenty of unexpected twists and turns, and several moments that cause you to go, "Wow, that was cool!" There are parts that are predictable, but the movie presents them in unique and creative ways. I'd say it's an above average renter, but if you can catch it in theaters it's really exciting and fun on the big screen. I may get a copy on Blu-Ray when it becomes available.

What's a dark fairy tale movie you'd like to see made in the future? I think a dark, medieval Beauty and the Beast would be pretty amazing. Comment below and tell me all about it!


  1. It’s a fun movie and if that’s what you go in expecting, then you’re going to be happy. At least that’s what I went in feeling like. Good review Dustin.

    1. Thanks, Dan!
      Yeah, it is a fun movie. It's hardly deep or profound but it is immensely fun, I think. Thanks for your comments!