Despite the delay, I was finally able to catch Jack the Giant Slayer on 2D in its second week of screening. And since fairy tale reimaginings are all the rage today, I was not surprised that there were still a lot of people who turned up to check out this new adaptation of the Jack and Beanstalk lore.
Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a regular farm boy tasked by his uncle to sell their horse in the town of Cloister. When he reaches the town however, a monk entrusts him with several beans, believed to be holy relics from the time of the great war with the giants, in exchange for his horse. When the beans suddenly grow into a giant beanstalk reaching the sky, Jack’s house and the princess Isobelle taken along with it, Jack volunteers to join the King’s Guard led by Elmont (Ewan McGregor) on the mission to save the princess. However, the princess’ bethrothed, Rodrick (Stanley Tucci) decides to join the search with his own nefarious plan in mind.
I kind of liked this version of Jack and the Beanstalk even though it was not the critics’ favorite based on some reviews I’ve seen beforehand. The source material was not very complicated in itself and the film progressed along the same lines, save for some embellishments with regard to the giants’ origin. It was quite predictable, I concede, but it did have its moments, owing to a rather strong cast and great animation.
I liked that Jack was portrayed as a simple farm boy with no special skills except for his kind heart and courage, although this too was tempered with fear of the unknown. It made the Jack of the movies normal and relateable to the audience. Nicholas Hoult was a good choice to play the title role because this kid is truly charming, a quality that endears him to the audience in most of the parts he takes on (even when he was playing the devious Tony Stone of the UK hit series Skins).
It was the first time I’ve seen Eleanor Tomlinson in any role and I think that she did justice to the spunky princess Isobelle, although a bit more sass would not have hurt. As for Stanley Tucci , I have no more praise I could give because he can play any part and do well every time. That much is a given. The star of the show for me however, was Ewan McGregor, who really stood out as the King’s Guard Elmont. This guy just delivers the zingers so effortlessly, and his sense of humor just makes his role so multi-faceted. Even the giants were able to put their gross personalities in full display.
Jack the Giant Slayer did not have a lot of complications in its plot. It pretty much stuck to the original material so the beginning part was kind of slow — not boring, but it took its sweet time in telling the story. There was even a huge part of the film devoted entirely to climbing the beanstalk too so that wasn’t all that interesting as well. There were also some inconsistencies if one wants to get technical about it, but they’re only minute ones that can be ignored by the audience without losing sleep over it. Besides, these glitches can be justified by the material being a work of fiction.
One thing that deserves praise though was the great set and costume design. The outfits of the Kings Guard were especially fetching as it incorporated the traditional knight costume with a more lightweight and modern feel. I loved them. As for the CGI, it was well executed although some parts were quite unnecessary and inserted obviously for the benefit of 3D.
All in all, Jack the Giant Slayer did not lack for any entertainment value, which is what audiences look for in a film anyway. Director Bryan Singer (X-men) managed to make the most of his 114 minute adventure film. He set out to make a fairy tale adaptation and that is exactly what he did. He made it fun, he made it witty, he made it enjoyable for both the young and old alike. It’s not Oscars material but it was a good movie.