I’m not sure what has brought on this latest spate of movies based on fairy tales, (If I were one of those deeply analytical movie critic types I say it was due to 9/11) but as movies based on fairy tales go, “Jack The Giant Slayer” is one of the better ones.
The movie opens with young Jack being read a bedtime story about how in days of old a race of giants living in a kingdom in the sky declared war on the little people thanks to a magic beanstalk that gave the giants access to the world below. The king was eventually able to stop the giants by fashioning a crown made from a giant’s heart that gave the king control over the giants. The giants went back home, the beanstalk was chopped down, and the few magic beans left were hidden away along with the crown.
Years pass and Jack (Nicholas Hoult ) is now a young man living the life of a poor farmer. So poor in fact that his uncle has sent him to town to sell their horse and cart.
While there he has a brief encounter with Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), one of those free-spirited princesses who likes to wander around incognito and get in trouble. She’s also the type who wants to marry for love not politics, which is unfortunate as her father King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) plans on marrying her off to Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci). Lord Roderick, as you should know if you’ve ever watched one of these movies, does not have the king’s or the princess’ best interests in mind.
Meanwhile in the palace a monk has stolen the magic beans. Lord Roderick orders the city sealed off to prevent his escape. The monk convinces Jack to take the beans to his fellow monks for safekeeping, rides off with Jack’s horse but is quickly captured.
Jack walks home and finds his uncle none too pleased with what has gone down. That night during a heavy rainstorm the princess runs away from home and winds up at Jack’s hovel. One of the beans slips out of Jack’s pouch and under the floorboards where it mixes with earth and rain to form a gigantic beanstalk.
The beanstalk carries the house and Isabelle to the heavens as Jack crashes back to earth. The following morning the king sends up a team including Jack, Roderick and Elmont (Ewan McGregor) — leader of the royal guard — up the beanstalk to rescue Isabelle. You can imagine what they find awaiting them there.
Director Bryan Singer has taken the rather silly story of a poor farm boy, magic beans and giants and turned it into a rousing adventure. The set designs and special effects are nifty, the look of the film is certainly medieval. The giants are suitably disturbing, especially their two-headed leader played by Bill Nighy and John Kassir. The humans are nicely earnest or evil, depending on the character.
The 3D is decent but not necessary. The action sequences are exciting and the characters are fun. It’s not a great film but it’s a decent romp.
“Jack The Giant Slayer” is rated PG-13 mainly for the violence. Determine for yourself if your young child can handle multiple deaths, including people getting their heads bitten off. It’s all bloodless but it’s there. There were several young children at the screening I attended and none of them ran screaming out the door.