Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Just when we thought that the rebooted-fairy-tale genre has run its course, Bryan Singer (‘The Usual Suspects’, ‘X-Men’) pulls a fast one and delivers ‘Jack The Giant Slayer’.
Despite your trepidations of it being another fee fi ho-hum remake, Singer’s revisionist 3D fairy tale surprisingly works. Unlike other fractured fairy tales of yore (‘Red Riding Hood’, ‘Snow White & The Huntsman’ ‘Mirror, Mirror’, ‘Beastly’), ‘Jack The Giant Slayer’ is an inventive take on the tale.
It’s not a ground-breaking film to be honest; it is mindless cathartic fun and doesn’t aspire to be the ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’ retelling that no one has seen before. Director Singer and ‘Usual Suspects’ compatriot, co-writer Christopher McQuarrie expand the ‘Jack & The Beanstalk’ narrative, turning the relatively simple tale into a multi-layered action-adventure comedy.
So once upon a time, there’s a poor farm boy called Jack (Nicholas Hoult) who after trading his uncle’s horse and cart for a bag of beans, unintentionally unleashes a towering twisty stalk-way to the land of giants up above the clouds and inadvertently sending love interest Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) into their world. Thus, he must rise up (pun intended) to the challenge to save her. He is aided by (or rather he is aiding) the swashbuckling Elmont (a tally-hoing Ewan McGregor) and the rest of the King’s (Ian McShane) Guardians as well as the princess’ scheming fiancé Roderick (Stanley Tucci) and his equally evil aide Wicke (Ewen Bremmer). Bill Nighy’s General Fallon, self-proclaimed leader of the giants completes the cast.
Singer wastes no time in putting the plot in motion, moving things along briskly. Of course, this being an adventure-comedy, actions scenes abound. Singer shoehorns an action sequence whatever the excuse; he knows how to take you on a ride, a thrilling one at that. He is a skilled storyteller and knows how to balance action, humor and romance. Like we said earlier, the movie is not remarkable but it’s far more superior to any of its predecessors.
Performances by the cast are generally strong. British actor Nicholas Hoult (‘X-Men: First Class’) is very likeable and you notice the chemistry he has with co-star, relative new-comer Tomlinson who despite being the only eye-candy in the movie needed rescuing too many a time.
Alas, the pair does make the perfect fairy-tale couple while Tucci’s duplicitous Roderick and McGregor’s heroic Elmont add comedic fun to the tale. One can’t help but notice McGregor taking a backseat in the movie, letting his young co-star Hoult shine in scenes together.
Bill Nighy did some excellent voicework as the larger head of giant leader General Fallon, complete with his distinctive snarl (much like his ominous Davy Jones character in ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’) . We were quite disappointed with the giants. Neither monstrous nor menacing, they looked like they were rejects from ‘Clash of The Titans’ (apparently, the film makers used motion-capture to create the giants but they don’t seem to have the same realism of another famous mo-cap character, Gollum). Although, they are a crucial part of the tale, the ones here seem more like an afterthought, merely for laughs or a device to keep the story going forward; which they ultimately are, of course.
‘Jack The Giant Killer’ is a sumptuous fantasy steeped in CGI, set in a world that recalls Skull Island from ‘King Kong’ with hints of adventure from ‘Lord of The Rings’; it’s not an epic film but it’s entertaining enough for a weekend diversion.