Jack the Giant Slayer Screen 9 articles

Jack the Giant Slayer


Jack the Giant Slayer Poster
  • The too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen screenplay, by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After), and Dan Studney (Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical), is a shameless mélange of unmentionable triteness, packed full of reverberating one-liners and drained dry of emotional investment.

  • The title promises slaughtered giants, but Bryan Singer’s lumbering adventure movie is really just a stop in the ongoing death march of cinema. Years from now, we’ll gather round to tell our children tales of a glorious narrative art form that was murdered by CGI spectacle, dim 3-D, poorly motivated action sequences and market-tested gimmickry. Taking a healthy swig from Lord of the Rings’ cup, this high-concept “Jack and the Beanstalk” dresses up traditionalism in expensive nothingness...

  • The action sequences of this big-budget adventure are a misbegotten hybrid of Shrek and Black Hawk Down, presenting realistic terror and devastation in fairy-tale settings. The film is likely too scary for young children and too straightforward for most adults; aside from some halfhearted appeals to gender equality there's no revisionist subtext here, nor is there any serious consideration of the childhood fears that classic fairy tales exploit.

  • For its first 90 minutes, “Jack the Giant Slayer” is painlessly diverting. The visual design for the giants and the beanstalks keeps your eyes busy, even when the story sets your mind to wandering. If it drifts with increasing frequency it’s because, well, this finally is just a digitally souped-up, one-dimensional take on “Jack and the Beanstalk,” capped by the kind of interminable blowout that makes many big-studio entertainments feel as long as the last Oscars.

  • Another bedtime story gets a computerised, multi-dimensional overhaul which results in a cumbersome and flatly generic adventure romp in which a foppish farmhand saves an empire with careful employment of his earthy wiles.

  • The cast admirably pushes back against the routine digi-sound-and-fury—particularly character actor Ian McShane as a paternalistic monarch and a motion-captured Bill Nighy as a goliath with two argumentative heads. So many blockbuster movies are impersonal, micromanaged hashes that Jack, with its bare minimum of craft and commitment, comparatively comes off like a diamond in the rough.

  • It's one of the pleasures of Jack that the film's tone is more classical fairy tale than hipster graphic novel, replete with swashbuckling derring-do, beautiful distressed maidens, valiant knights on horseback, and characters who speak in whole sentences rather than quips and catchphrases.

  • Jack the Giant Slayer takes a straightforward approach to storybook material that could be much worse and could have been done with much less integrity. The performances are solid throughout, especially those by Hoult, McGregor, and Tucci. However, with a few well-placed nods and winks thrown to the grown-ups, the movie could have had the potential to be more than cinematic babysitting material.

  • The good news is that Jack the Giant Slayer is far better than expected, one of those children’s entertainments – like Oz the Great and Powerful – that may be a tad too scary for very young children but manages to be solid without being stodgy, and sneaks in some offbeat humour without toppling over into irony. It even semi-justifies 3D (which, as usual, adds almost nothing) in some handsome visuals and a couple of in-your-face moments, notably a near-miss with the sharp end of a plough.

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