Jack The Giant Slayer
2013 Running time: 114 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3
KA Jack The Giant Slayer

Synopsis

Fee fye foe fum, farm boy Jack (Nicholas Hoult) has a f-f-f-frighteningly big problem when his poor business sense leads to an invasion of man-eating giants from above the clouds. After watching his home disappear atop a beanstalk five miles high - taking the fair Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) with it - Jack joins the chief Palace guard (Ewan McGregor) on a perilous adventure to bring her back. A plot thickened with greed, revenge and plenty of ground bones helps X-Men director Bryan Singer add some fresh (and ugly) twists to the much-loved bedtime story.

Director

  • Bryan Singer

Cast

  • Nicholas Hoult

  • Ewan McGregor

  • Stanley Tucci

  • Eleanor Tomlinson

  • Bill Nighy

  • Ian McShane

  • Ewen Bremner

Review

Once upon a time there was a movie that stayed faithful to its fairy tale roots while adding some welcome folkloric touches of its own.

It had a director with a strong sense of adventure, traditional storybook settings, and budget enough to present its every new trick and trinket in pop-up 3D.

Thus does the story unfold, with a largely animated preamble telling of how marauding giants feasted on mankind until a great king banished them to their own world far above Earth.

The tale is a favourite of every youngster in the land of Cloister, from lowly peasants like Jack (Hoult) to the king's only daughter, Isabelle (Tomlinson, Alice In Wonderland).

Now normally, commoner Jack and high-born Isabelle would never meet in a million years. But one day, Jack saves Isabelle's honour while she moves incognito down the local market.

Alas, in his euphoria he allows a mad monk to talk him into swapping his horse for a handful of dry beans. The deal does not go down well at home. Yet no sooner has his uncle stormed out in disgust than fair Isabelle turns up at the door.

She too has stormed out, for her father the King (Ian McShane) has betrothed her to his smarmy advisor Roderick (Stanley Tucci).

But just as the young romantics are cursing their luck, the rain gets to one of Jack's beans. The next thing he knows, both Isabelle and the farm are gone, replaced by five vertical miles of beanstalk.

And that's where the adventures really begin as Jack joins gallant royal guard Elmont (McGregor) and the rest of the rescue party on a journey that takes them up, up and awaaaarrgghh to the land of the giants.

There's no shortage of incident as people are saved from the cooking pot, Roderick shows his truly rotten colours, and a power struggle breaks out among the monsters as they prepare to end their banishment and wreak terrible revenge.

Led by Bill Nighy's two-headed ogre General Fallon, the giants are so well-realised you can smell them, gloriously foul mountains of irredeemable ugliness and palpable grot.

Unfortunately, the visual feast is let down by characterisation as bland as overboiled cabbage. Given few gags and no opportunity for verbal jousting, it's a who's who of so-what.

Try as Hoult might, Jack remains quite a dull boy. Similarly, McGregor's plummy Elmont is crying out for a dash of Blackadder's Flashheart, while the insipid Isabelle doesn't exactly fly the flag for girl power despite being the only female character of note (so Mummy, where do giants come from?).

The most entertaining characters by far are Tucci's sneaky Roderick and Ewen Bremner as his goofy henchman. But neither is allowed to reach his potential by a script that won't keep quote lovers happy ever after. The Princess Bride this is not.

Thankfully, there's enough beanstalk-fed, battle-seasoned meat on this Giant Slayer's bones to sate most appetites for adventure.

Elliott Noble

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