Rated: PG-13 for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: March 1, 2013 Released by: New Line Cinema
Medieval-set fairy tale turns out to be a fairly likable if extended oddly cinematic reawakening of Jack and the Beanstalk that turns out to be pretty family friendly which includes a magic crown after the denouement. One that should be welcomed on giant/IMAX screens in 3D by those who like to have their action punctuated by a little dainty flavoring.
Jack The Giant Slayer, drawn from a 1962 picture with "Killer" in its title reunites filmmaker Bryan Singer with his scenarist (one of three) Christopher McQuarrie from the thriller The Usual Suspects. With the land of the giants there is more than a nod to the old Ray Harryhausen creatures and the use of stop-motion even if it follows plenty of big-budget effects and caters to current all-too-common gratuitous (whether from the nose or below-the-belt) needs.
The story isn't far removed from one of the old Sinbad voyages as an ordinary farm boy, Jack (a gangly Nicholas Hoult, unexpectedly charming in Warm Bodies, a zombie rom/com) attempts to save the lovely Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) from a vast sky-based giant land attached to earth via an enormous stalk inadvertently produced by magic beans.
It's clear that Singer goes out of his way (like Peter Jackson in The Hobbit) to bring kinetic energy and artistry to the giants' domain with his talented technicians with less attention to the aforementioned Harryhausen 'Dynamation' beings.
There's also a dry, mostly successful attempt to rekindle the spirit of Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride as Ewan McGregor (a little like Obi-Won Kenobi, too) comes across like Mandy Patinkin's Montoya as the altruistic Elmont. Some may find the connection between Jack and Isabelle to be like Cary Elwes's Westley and Robin Wright's princess. Stanley Tucci agains chews much scenery as Eleanor's smarmy, garish, and hirsute betrothed, Roderick who probably isn't far removed from one Count Rugen, played by Christopher Guest (creator of Best In Show).
While Tomlinson's character isn't very distinguished, she's into the vibe created by Singer and plays well off Hoult's credible, not very outlandish commoner. Ian McShane doesn't have to stretch very much as the staunch King Bramwell finally dealing with a surging giant foray. Ewen Bremner's Wicke isn't as welcome in fits of giggles under the employ of Roderick.
On its own terms, Jack The Giant Slayer"has a decent chance to make a decent killing at the box-office through a fairly stylish and coherent way that Singer makes enjoyable enough, especially those who enjoyed The Hobbit (even if all the technical panache and set-pieces could have been pared down a bit). It draws well enough off from its lauded antecedent and a winning picture which featured wrestling legend Andre The Giant with an affable Hoult and his costars, even Bill Nighy, helping to make it a simple and sweet, if inspired action-adventure.
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