Pauls Valley Democrat
Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — Unless you had about the most soul crushing upbringing possible, there isn’t a child that hasn’t let their imagination wonder when thinking about the world above the clouds. I count myself among those blessed enough to be very familiar with fairy tales such as the two that inspired this and admit with no shame that I can still recite that famous line about grinding bones into bread.
What sealed the deal for seeing it as soon as possible came after learning Bryan Singer, famous for the first two X-Men blockbusters, was attached to direct whereas I might have waited for rental otherwise. However, after viewing I can say it ended up being mostly an average delivery with what one might expect in old Saturday morning cartoons (where the good guys defeat the bad guys and there isn’t anything there to really confuse the conflicting personality traits). “Jack the Giant Slayer” is high adrenaline fun if you are the hero, but much more disposable if you happen to face him as an opponent.
Set in what seems like a never ending medieval faire, the sort-of merry old Kingdom of Cloister, we are introduced to two children who at a very early age become enamored by the tale of a king who defeated an army of giants after they invaded from the sky (which is actually something that seemed at times the most exciting part of the whole storyline). One of those kids, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) pretty much only has dreams like these to hold on as he grows up stumbling through poverty and the other, Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), takes it as free reign to seek adventure without much regard to how it impacts those around her.
Despite being clueless except when the plot needs him to not be a teenaged dingus, Jack somehow crosses paths with the adventurous babe and the two quickly find out through their bumbling around that the old tales, what with the bean stalks and all are not as bedtime myth as most have come to believe. I wish I had some grand description of the giants to compliment a perfectly villainous portal by the scumbag of a royal advisor Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci), but even the lead big fella Fallon (Bill Nighy and John Kassir), doesn’t leave much character traits other than something to be taken down as quickly as possible. I suppose what almost gave it a yawn factor was that there wasn’t even a single giant or human that paused to think of any redeeming qualities in the other, making the giants seem not worth investing any compassion.
As some other criticisms have noted, the CGI also feels a bit rough at times and I find little reason to bother seeing it in anything other than standard definition. The costuming for the humans was at times pretty spiffy, especially for Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Elmont, the leader of the king’s elite guard, but practically no investment again for the giants, who seemed like giant kids who rolled around in the mud like pigs.
That said, this flick should work fine as a mostly tame tale for the wee ones, with no serious investment from the older crowd outside of those looking for a high body count. I don’t plan on a repeat viewing anything soon, but find little regret in spending the time. In the end, I’d say “Jack the Giant Slayer” deserves two and one fourth out of five crowns.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.