Jack the Giant Slayer
- James Mottram
- 19 March 2013
Bryan Singer's adaptation is a decent enough storybook yarn, if a little too earnest
Judging by the early word from the US, where this blockbuster fairytale has performed poorly at the box office, you’d think it was a flop of gigantic proportions. It may not be on a par with director Bryan Singer’s X-Men films, but Jack the Giant Slayer is an old-fashioned family romp – a tale of Davids vs Goliaths if you will – that stumbles rather than tumbles.
Nicholas Hoult is Jack, a farmhand who encounters some magic beans, one of which explodes into an enormous beanstalk, spiriting the kingdom’s rebellious Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) into the clouds. Smitten, Jack joins the rescue party – led by the dashing knight Elmont (Ewan McGregor, on good form) – which takes them to Gantua, a land of giants who have designs on conquering Earth.
Hoult proves a competent lead, and while Tomlinson lacks sparkle as his female counterpart, the largely British support (Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner) give the story texture. The CG giants are rendered well, all drool and bad teeth, though are rarely terrifying. What the film really lacks, compared to something like The Princess Bride, is a wry humour; co-written by Singer’s long-time collaborator Christopher McQuarrie, the script is arrow-straight and overly-earnest. And what laughs there are (a giant picking his nose, for example) are strictly primary school.
That aside, Jack the Giant Slayer is more palatable than recent post-modern fairy-tale riffs, like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, with Singer bringing a storybook feel to the action. And if nothing else, you get to see McGregor as a human-sized sausage roll – and it’s not often you can say that.
General release from Fri 22 Mar.