Director Bryan Singer reunites with Nicholas Hoult for this spirited reimagining of the classic fairy tale, and I find myself with little to say about Jack the Giant Slayer except, “Go see it.” Two exceptions: your youngster should Little One be a tenderfoot, or your primary requirement being depth of story. Otherwise? You’re good. Start planning the weekend.
Packing an accomplished supporting cast including Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Bill Nighy, and Ian McShane, Jack the Giant Slayer offers a visual feast supported by a solid script. Here we meet the humble Jack who by circumstance meets the princess and comes into possession of some highly sought-after beans. This leads to that, and everyone comes to find out that the legend of invasion by giants from the sky is, in fact, history. And history, as we know, has a nasty tendency to repeat itself…
Being family fare, the story never moves into emotional nuance, but the immediacies of the moment fly fast, furious, and ever engaging for all. The “grownups talking” parts remain in broad strokes and minimum quantity so the kiddos will never be bored, and the rest of us can revel in the film’s creative execution.
It’s the latter that makes Jack the Giant Slayer worthy of anyone’s time; the artistic interpretations are perfection. If you remember Rise of the Guardians, here again it’s not the complexity of the story but the complexity of its telling that earns the stripes.
The giants reside in the sweet spot of being small enough that our heroes can entertain hope of victory yet large enough to realize that such hope is likely folly. Each one is fully individualized in characteristic and appearance (the first one we see being for all the world the oversized offspring of Samara Morgan and Anthony Keidis), and the superb technical integration gives them a remarkable fluidity and authenticity (think Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Ben Daniels’ Fumm is quite splendid indeed; he does beautifully, making Fumm arguably the best articulated character in the film. Additionally, one can almost feel the crispness of the air and moistness of the waterfall mists in the giants’ world.
Back to the kiddos and in case you’re concerned it’s pabulum, remember that fairy tales can be gruesome going, and reimagined or not, Jack the Giant Slayer remains true to its tradition. There is no blood and most occurs outside frame, but there’s torture, stabbing, premeditated murder, bitings off of living heads and limbs, a couple of impalements, and a body count of allies to rival The Walking Dead. Family fare, yes, but also fairly grisly and possibly distressing to tots and youngsters of gentler spirit. If you’re a parent, I recommend investigation; if it’s not a problem it won’t be any problem at all, but if it is a problem, it could be a deeply upsetting.
Obviously, Jack the Giant Slayer is best seen on the largest screen you can arrange. That said, the 3D here didn’t serve particularly well, causing a noticeable loss of light without offering any remarkable wonderment in exchange. If you have the option and no overt reason for desiring 3D, I’d save the jingle toward a Warm Bodies double feature and opt for 2D, which will be plenty spectacular I’m sure. (Yardstick: The Hobbit - I thought 3D served extremely well there in 48 frames per second.)
Finally, Lord of the Rings fans will have some fun along the way. There are echoes throughout (I counted four), and a battle before we’re done that rivals the intensity of Minas Tirith. Jack the Giant Slayer also keeps us guessing; on several occasions (and given the body count), I found myself truly not knowing who would make it out of a situation, how they would manage it, and how it would resolve (other than the obvious, this is a fairy tale, after all).
Very nice, very nice, well done all.