Saturday, March 23, 2013

Jack The Giant Slayer (2013)

**This review contains spoilers**

Sent on a simple mission from his uncle, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is supposed to sell his horse for money to help his uncle’s farm. But when Jack finally reaches his destination, he’s persuaded by a peculiar offer from a strange monk. The monk agrees to exchange the horse for a rare set of magical beans. But Jack must promise to guard the magical beans, and keep them a secret. As Jack holds the bag of beans, the monk rides away on the horse in an attempt to escape the guards of Cloister.

Meanwhile, Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) dreads her pre-arranged marriage to Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci). The king of Cloister, King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) trusts Lord Roderick, but unbeknownst to the king, Lord Roderick is planning a takeover of the Kingdom.

During one stormy night, Isabelle seeks refuge inside Jack’s house, while his uncle is away. Jack tries to control his nerves in the Princess’ presence, but he’ll have bigger problems to worry about. One bean slips through the cracks in the floor, and after a slight dab of water, the bean explodes into a giant beanstalk. Jack’s house is catapulted into the sky. Jack falls to the ground, but Isabelle is still stuck inside the house, as the beanstalk pushes her through the clouds.

Jack awakes to an angry King Brahmwell in the morning, and with a determination to save Isabelle, Jack joins the team of knights, who are sent to find the King’s daughter. Led by Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and his second in command, Crawe (Eddie Marsan), the search party climbs the beanstalk into a world of merciless giants.

Lord Roderick and his sniveling sidekick, Wicke (Ewen Bremner) decide to tag along, and with the help of a magical crown, Lord Roderick waits for the right moment to fulfill his diabolical conquest. Isabelle is at the mercy of Fallon (voiced by Bill Nighy & John Kassir- Nighy is the bigger head, and Kassir is the smaller head, or to be more clear, Nighy is the smart head, and Kassir is the dumb head), the two-headed leader of the giants. Time is running out, as Jack fights to rescue Isabelle, thwart Lord Roderick’s evil plans, and save the Kingdom Of Cloister from destruction.

Ian McShane delivers a strong, and for my money, the second most entertaining performance here, because the number one spot belongs to Ewan McGregor. McGregor really nails the cocky and charismatic knight persona. Nicholas Hoult is kind of dull in the leading role, though. Yes, I get the point of his character. He’s supposed to be the unlikely hero/common man, who must rise to the occasion, and find his courage. Still, Hoult’s performance just falls flat, and he’s carried by McGregor and CGI giants throughout the movie. Tomlinson is an attractive woman, but she’s horribly dull as Princess Isabelle. And Tucci is enjoyable, as the slimy traitor, who’ll do anything to gain control over Cloister.

Brian Singer delivers awe-inspiring visuals and wonder behind the camera, and an action-packed finale. I took a chance on the 3D version, and Singer was able to find the right balance for the 3D effects. Not too much, and the 3D never reaches the “well, this is pointless, they just did a 3D release for more money” not enough point. Cool 3D effects throughout the movie, and I don’t regret paying the extra cash.

For the most part, I enjoyed Jack The Giant Slayer, but the inconsistent tones for this film annoyed the shit of me. Is this supposed to be for kids? Or, are they trying to cater to a wider audience (kids, teenagers, adults)? Fallon’s throne is made of human bones, and the giants are portrayed as fearless monsters, who love to eat humans. And during the sporadic giant attacks throughout the movie, you’ll see brief glimpses of the CGI giants attacking, and in some cases, distant shots of giants trying to, and eating humans.

But Fallon’s smaller head behaves like a goofy child with mental problems. The giant chef, who tries to cook Elmont alive picks his nose and eats his boogers during the prep. And a sleeping giant, who’s guarding the entrance/exit to the giant’s world farts during his slumber. Jack The Giant Slayer strays into kiddy territory every now and then, and the tonal shifts are really annoying.

A lot of people blame Jack The Giant Slayer’s formulaic and predictable story, but the weak overall cast is the true Achilles heel. McShane, McGregor, and Tucci couldn’t overshadow Hoult’s dullness in the leading role, and yes, it’s problem, because Hoult’s character receives the bulk of the focus and screen time here. Isabelle is suppose to be a sympathetic character, but Tomlinson’s performance is unconvincing. Sorry, but when CGI giants (i.e. Fallon) are more entertaining and convincing than members of your human cast, you’ve got some serious problems.

Jack The Giant Slayer is adventurous and fun, and the final battle is loaded with thrills and good action. Yeah, it’s predictable, but what else can you expect from a film based on fairy tales? Good guys fight, bad guys fight harder, and crush the hopes of the good guys. But as always, the good guys band together in the end, and find a way to triumph over evil. Jack The Giant Slayer isn’t a ground-breaking film, but it’s a fun ride with a few good laughs here and there. 

Final Rating: 5/10

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