by Katie Gile
Following the lead of colorful fairy tale films like last year’s opulent, but unfortunate “Mirror, Mirror” is “Jack the Giant Slayer.”
Starring Nicholas Hoult in the title role and featuring a cast of great character actors including Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Ian McShane, this movie had the makings for a great adventure. Unfortunately, Director Bryan Singer delivers a film that’s shockingly bland.
The film begins with an unfamiliar prelude of giants and a crown to rule them all. However, the film shortly picks up with the familiar story, as farmboy Jack sells a horse for mysterious beans, with the strict order to keep them dry. Of course, Jack is unable to follow this rule and an enormous beanstalk grows up through the clouds to the land of the giants. It’s there that the adventure really begins, or so we hope.
Screenwriters Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney carefully interject moments of family values, bravery and tenderness, but we just can’t seem to care. Where there might have been a dramatic build or moments of intrigue and excitement, we sit, anxiously awaiting adrenaline and joy that never comes. In a film with daring adventure and broad themes, there is no moment of triumph in which the audience can join.
Singer’s directorial hand is most noticeable in the beautiful art direction of “Jack the Giant Slayer,” filling every set corner with interest and every costume with color. It seems the only captivating thing about the movie is its colorful appearance, which 3-D helps to emphasize. However color doesn’t extend past the literal sense. Singer’s directorial style made for very uneven pacing throughout and left the audience feeling quite unsatisfied.
Even the usually enigmatic Nicholas Hoult as Jack was dragged down by the clumsiness of its script and direction. While endearing and entertaining, he didn’t shine as he has so often before. Hoult’s Jack was brave and clever, but any triumph we might have felt through him as he works to become a hero was lost.
Eleanor Tomlinson, who starred as Princess Isabelle, was charming but forgettable. Her role as a young lady seeking independence and adventure was well-played but ultimately milquetoast.
Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane and Stanley Tucci were, sadly, wasted in this movie. Where each was a solid performer in his role, neither of the three left a remarkable impact overall.
The fact that this film is entirely created for children was never clearer than in the CGI employed for the giants. For creatures of their size and magnitude in the story, the giants were nothing more than one-dimensional animated characters. Considering all the possibilities of what the mythical giants could have been, their design was weak and the animation hardly up to the par of most animated films. Their differences from the humans mostly lay in the fact that they were animated, rather than interesting visual differentiation among themselves or humans. And though voice talents lent by great performers like Bill Nighy spiced them up a little bit, they were not handled with any noticeable strength.
Overall, it’s painfully clear that “Jack the Giant Slayer” is made for children. But unlike the adult-friendly charms of family films like “Shrek” or last year’s “Brave,” this movie pandered and played down to its audience, rather than tell a story for all ages.
Though not a bad movie per se, “Jack the Giant Slayer” was Fi, Fie, Ho-Hum.