'Jack the Giant Slayer' is a fairy tale spectacle
MANILA, Philippines - One can't help but worry about "re-imaginings" because they go into predictable and boring routes. Either they go dark or they lose all sense of the source material.
"Jack the Giant Slayer," while from the trailers seems a dark take, is actually a fun-filled adventure. It might not be the smartest flick around, but it should be a popcorn-loving hit.
Expanding on the source material by providing a mythology behind the giants' origins and adding stories of war and magical items — told in well-executed animation — we get a story that is big, expansive, and engaging. It draws on a lot of familiar fairy tale elements and gives us something that isn't necessarily new but is still novel and entertaining.
Watch the trailer here:
At the heart of it is the cute little love story that serves as the film's backbone. It's one what we Pinoy viewers should be more than familiar with. There's a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) who wants adventure, but is saddled with an overprotective father and a smarmy fiancee (who of course does not care for the princess but has other plans in his bid for power). Then there's the poor farm boy, Nicholas Hoult's titular Jack, who loves stories and dreams of going on adventures, too. It could never work!
Then the magic of the fairy tale we know comes into play. Jack gets a bag of what he believes to be beans, but like gremlins and other magical things I suppose, they should never get wet. The beanstalk reaches to the heavens and then it connects the world of men to that of giants.
Why the animals and trees and other things up there aren't gigantic, I don't know. I just went with it. If there is a world up there with giants (no females, mind) who want to conquer the world of men, and they spend their time hanging out and developing their sense of smell or whatever, fine. At a certain point I decided to chuck my objections and demands of reality out the window. Once you do that and accept a lot of the stuff that's going on, then you're in for a good time.
I like how the film plays with expectations. We're provided a big bad at the start in the form of the smarmy suitor played by Stanley Tucci; then we get given another bad. The movie keeps us looking in different directions as things escalate. Things are placed in such a way that we can predict that they will pop up later in the film, but there's fun in seeing how the different elements come into play.
It helps that the people we are made to hate are very good at it. Ewan Bremner plays a sadistic right hand man to Tucci's ego-maniac baddie. Tucci's been great in a lot of films, and he plays his part to a tee here, being vile and contemptuous as a fairy tale villain should be.
A big name in the film is Ewan MacGregor, playing head of the King's guard. MacGregor knows how to do humor, and he has made otherwise lamentable films at least moderately bearable ("Attack of the Clones," ahem, ahem). He brings that vibe here, coming across as a medieval Obi-Wan, playing for both action and comedy.
Again, the anchor to it is the cute little teeny-bopper love story between Jack and the princess. But happening all around it is a maelstrom of action. We get climbing and a gorgeous scene when the giants jump off their world in the sky and down to ours (not a spoiler since we get it in the trailer). There's great suspense and a chase when we meet our first giant, and then towards the end there's a siege as the giants attack the castle in an epic battle sequence.
All of this is spectacle and eye candy, and it's extremely entertaining. I can only imagine how little kids would feel watching this version of the fairy tale. I always imagined Jack and the Beanstalk appealed to kids because pretty much all the world was made up of giants. Then I found a reading that showed how the fairy tale was a justification of imperialism. This revision sidesteps any of those readings and just turns this into a big adventure that pretty much anyone in the family can watch. (Though be warned, while there is little gore, it does portray the giants biting people's heads off and other nasty things.)
Watch this interview with Eleanor Tomlinson and Nicholas Hoult:
This isn't an intellectual engagement of the source material. It's a big Hollywood romp, enabled by the CG-effects that allow director Bryan Singer to tell a story this big.
As such it gives us big doses of action, adventure, romance, fantasy, and fun. - Rappler.com
Carljoe Javier doesn't know why people think he's a snarky film critic who spends his time dashing the hopes of filmgoers. He thinks he's not all that bad, really. He teaches at the State U, writes books, and studies film, comics, and video games... Then again, those people could be right.