JACK THE GIANT SLAYER
By Michael Walters
The Cantankerous Critic
“Jack The Giant Slayer” seems destined to be the Hollywood blockbuster that nobody really likes. It’s a big, broad, bland time killer that fails to put a definitive stamp, or any stamp for that matter, on the familiar fairy tale.
Nicholas Hoult showed a lot more appeal as an undead zombie in “Warm Bodies” than he does here, stuck in the underwritten role of Jack, the farm boy who trades his horse and cart for some magic beans.
During a trip to the castle, he has an encounter with the princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), who is in disguise out mixing with the commoners to escape her overprotective father. Later, when she decides to go for a ride in a pouring rainstorm, she winds up taking shelter in Jack’s farmhouse. He’s been warned not to get those beans wet, but before you know it he’s got a giant beanstalk soaring into the sky and taking the princess along with it.
The film treats the beanstalk as a gateway between the worlds of giants and the worlds of men. The kingdom has been able to hold the giants at bay with a magic crown until now. But it falls into the hands of a villainous underling named Roderick (Stanley Tucci), who plans to use the giants to seize the throne. So he leads a charge up the beanstalk to find the princess and bring the giants back down.
This is a movie that simply asks the actors to say their lines, and then get out of the way of the special effects. Nearly everyone obliges in the blandest way possible, except for Tucci. His comic timing and mustache-twirling, devilish charms add some much needed flavor to this gruel.
As for the special effects, they’re competent, but hardly extraordinary. The giants themselves all look like characters from a video game. There is some attempt to differentiate a few (one has a giant afro, another has two heads), but on the whole they’re unimpressive. Orks have more personality than these giant bores.
The action set pieces are remarkably unremarkable as well. When I tell you the climax involves what is essentially a big game of tug of war, that should give a hint at the dearth of imagination involved.
Director Bryan Singer has shown he can make an entertaining action movie, and no doubt he will do so again. But he and Hollywood should leave the fairy tales alone for a while. This is one bedtime story that might put you to sleep long before its over.