Jack the Giant Slayer – Film Review
I’m just trying to stay sane while I wait for Once Upon a Time season 3.
It’s a hard knocks life.
TL;DR Not as splatter-fab as Hansel and Gretel, or magical as Oz, Jack the Giant Slayer is a dreary, unadventuruous adventure movie. The action is impressive, but for $200 million, I’d fucking hope so. It’s not the most pathetic thing ever, but that’s probably the most flattering thing you could say about it. 2 out of 5 stars.
Even for financially flopping action epics, it’s subpar.
The plot is, as you should have guessed, an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack (Nicholas Hoult, who has somehow survived twice being made irrelevant during his career) is a poor farm boy who something something magic beans. These grow a beanstalk to the land of the giants, and it inconveniently traps and carries off Princess Isabelle, who Jack wants to bone. He teams up with knight Ewan McGregor and Isabelle’s slimy suitor, Stanley Tucci, to rescue her. Stanley flips the script and uses an ancient artifact to control the genocidal giants, but they flip the script again on him, and raid the kingdom. Isabelle, Ewan and Jack use the power of plot armour to defeat the giants.
This movie has several problems, but what really just fucked me off straight away was how bland and stupid the giants are. They’re hideious, CGI monstrosities. So lucky us, we don’t feel bad about them getting slaughtered and destroyed.
Fuck, even Hurley from Once Upon a Time was a more sympathetic giant, and he was a fat idiot (with amazing holding-on skills).
I miss the weird, enormous Daryl Hannah giants from the much-better TV movie that’s now 12 years old.
“Wah, I hate new things whinge whinge whinge.” I know what I sound like.
Why I hate this movie:
The giants being turned into CGI freaks also has the double downside of making them have absolutely no colour. Which only heightens the blandness of our already bland cast and setting.
The only character with anything going on is Tucci, and he’s the bad guy. And he gets killed midway through. Ewan does what’s required of him as the stoic, knightly type. Isabelle mostly eschews being a damsel in distress (because she gets to wear pants), but has zero personality.
The relationship between her and Jack is predictably shallow. They meet briefly when he defends her honour in the bazaar, but other than an awkward exchange at Jack’s house later, there is no reason for them to give a shit about each other. He is just dazzled because she’s royalty, she’s wet at the thought of her downtown boy. Leave it for ancient Billy Joel songs, kids.
Jack is weirdly modernised. He has a hoodie cloak thing, which is a fucking joke. God. It’s just so stupid.
Isabelle, Jack and Ewan survive the collapse of the beanstalk by kindly asking the laws of physics to take a coffee break.
In contrast to the excellent head-sploding carnage of Hansel and Gretel, this lower rated movie takes the goodness of a giant head-chomping a dude away from us with a gory discretion shot. Fuckin’ rude. And I don’t know why. I mean, the movie’s called Jack the Giant Slayer (formerly, “Killer”). It’s clearly just ratings pandering to allow younger audiences in. We’ve got enough of that with the Hunger Games, guys.
The “it’s cool to kill giants” theme is grossly manifested in a scene where Ewan and Jack kill the beanstalk guard giant. They put a beehive in his helmet, which causes him to fumble his way off the edge of the floating island and plummet to his traumatically violent death. This is apparently hilarious to our main characters, despite them having sulked about a bunch of human characters having a similar fate earlier.
The King (Ian McShane) orders the beanstalk hastily cut down when it becomes clear things aren’t going well up top. He and everyone involved in this process is surprised when it falls on them. What did they think would happen?
Oh, and as a final insult against the dirty giants. the Giant King, who leads the attack against the kingdom, is killed by Jack throwing a magic bean into his mouth. This has the clearly chuckle-riffic effect of shredding his body as a beanstalk grows out of him. This is topped off by his eyeball splattering toward the screen (would have loved to have seen that in 3D). The movie really should have just done a Hansel and Gretel and gone for broke with the violence stuff. Not this indecisive shit.
Reasons to watch:
As loathe as I am to let something make Anita Sarkeesian happy, at least Isabelle gets a decent go at not being a useless female. She’s only “kidnapped” out of bad luck, and only “powerless” because the giants are, you know, giant. Ewan later needs saving even more than Isabelle does, so it’s good to see some damsel in distress circumvention. She even gets to wear some pretty gold armour. Which isn’t sexist, because her father’s is even prettier and golder.
The lore section at the beginning is probably the most interesting segment of the movie. It details what the magic beans are and how the giants attacked in the old days.
The CGI is top notch. Which is good, because it was fucking expensive.
The assault on the city at the end is pretty cool. Ewan pours oil into the moat and sets it on fire, preventing the giants access (though the Giant King falls in and just, like, swims through the thin layer of oil and into the sewers. Still, it was a good idea). Not ones to let a good idea go to waste, the giants hurl flaming trees as projectiles. Cute.
The gold harp, which Jack merely passes in his 2 second waltz through the giants’ treasure hoard, has titties. Again, why did they bother keeping the rating low?
Tucci makes a superb smarmy bastard. And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that meddling Ewan.
Jack kills the cook giant by dive bombing him in the back with a giant kitchen knife. It’s cool.
The King actually puts his kingdom first and decides to forsake his daughter and the rescue team when he orders the beanstalk cut down. Dat being sensible.
Oh, and the magic crown that controls the giants is shown to have been modified into one of the Crown Jewels. Modern day setting sequel?
Skins series 1 & 2 purists might get their Nicholas Hoult fix, but there is nothing else remarkable about this movie that you couldn’t get in Hansel and Gretel. Let’s just chalk this up as a $200 million oopsie, and go back to sitting quietly in the corner, waiting for Once Upon a Time to come back. 2 out of 5 stars.