Starring Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci. Written by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, Dan Studney and David Dobkin. Directed by Bryan Singer.
Jack the Giant Slayer has Lord of the Rings ambitions but ends up landing somewhere in the realm of Star Wars: Episode I (complete with Ewan McGregor).
As further evidence that Hollywood has simply run out of ideas, Jack the Giant Slayer is yet another reimagined fairy tale made into a film, much like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman, Red Riding Hood, even TV shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time. Yes, Hollywood will ride this money horse until it is good and dead and then will continue to beat it.
Jack is a re-telling of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and its vastly more violent predecessor "Jack the Giant Killer" fairy tales. Jack (Hoult) is a farm boy who, yes, trades his uncle's horse and cart for a handful of magic beans (however unwillingly). There is also an elaborate (and engaging) backstory regarding the lore of the giants in the kingdom where Jack and the luminous princess Isabelle (Tomlinson) live.
The movie starts out promisingly enough, with the wide-eyed Hoult carrying the story with his endearing earnestness. Jack's hopelessly noble attraction to Isabelle also makes for some young love romantic intrigue. Then come the giants, and there goes the move.
Do you remember when CGI animation just started being used with any kind of regularity in Hollywood? And how bad it was? (Think Jar Jar Binks or when the Rock turned into the Scorpion King.) Jack's giants are kind of like that.
If bad CGI weren't bad enough, the only thing scary about the giants, aside from their size, is their abysmal hygiene. Efforts to make them even more revolting just cheapen the whole flick and further undermine these foes as a formidable force, as do some severely awkward attempts at humor.
When Jack and Isabelle and a random assortment of mostly unnecessary additional characters end up in the giants' realm the movie just gets wacky, losing its footing as a promising action/fantasy flick somewhere on that massive beanstalk. Any hope this movie had by being in the hands of director Bryan Singer, the man who single-handedly redefined the comic book superhero movie genre with 2000's seminal X-Men, was lost somewhere in all that sloppy CGI and a script that gives up halfway through. Which begs the questions: was this the best Singer could do? Or is this simply the best version of Jack we could have hoped for?