Here's a new take on an old tale. Rated PG-13 and directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men"), this "Jack and the Beanstalk" is well cast, visually exciting, and lots of fun. Computer Generated Imaging has made fantasy stories more and more fantastical; this one is mind-boggling.
* Nicholas Hoult ("Warm Bodies") is resourceful and resolute as Jack, the nice young man who drops a magic bean and... "Uh oh," gets it WET. Later, as he clambers up that amazing beanstalk, he admits he "doesn't much like heights."
* Eleanor Tomlinson ("Alice in Wonderland") is Isabel, an adventurous princess who finds waaaay more adventure than she bargained for.
* Ian McShane ("Deadwood") is the king, ready to marry off his daughter to a much older man in order to achieve peace with a neighboring kingdom. But he pitches right in when his kingdom is under attack.
* Stanley Tucci ("The Hunger Games") makes the perfect bridegroom/villain: ambitious, ruthless and cruel. Once he gets the magic crown, the wedding is off!
* Ewan McGregor ("The Impossible") is our stalwart guardsman Elmont: organized, decisive and brave. It looks like McGregor enjoys being in a comedy for a change.
* Bill Nighy ("About Time") is the lead Giant. He has a little spare head sitting on one shoulder, which offers another point of view.
If you take a 12-year-old boy (the perfect demographic) reassure him that there is less than a minute of "mush." Otherwise, it's slam-bang action, with lots of spears, arrows, horses, drawbridges, armor, swords, boiling oil, burning trees and other weapons of the middle ages.
I can't think of a thing I would change; 114 minutes flew by. The battle scenes aren't too long, the giants are appropriately icky, our hero is valiant and the heroine is plucky. We all ducked when a crown bounced into the audience, but beyond that, the story is engaging enough that there should be no need to spring for the extra 3D charge, so a DVD from Amazon will do just fine.
I liked this film and together with my 12 years old daughter we spend a nice moment watching it. It is however definitely not recommended to little children, like 10 and younger. This review contains limited SPOILERS.
This retelling of old tale of Jack and the Beanstalk is pretty well done, with many key ingredients of fairy tales well in place. There is a brave and ultimately quite clever farm boy (Jack), a cute and quite likeable damsel in distress, a noble king, his brave knights, a vilainous treacherous scoundrel, powerful magic items, a really REALLY BAD giant alpha (and beta) and a whole batallion of other giants, almost as dangerous as their two-headed leader.
Past the first 10 minutes, the film is rather quick paced and visually it is very pleasant: the sky domain of giants, the giant beanstalks and the mighty royal fortress are really impressive. The desperate fight of royal army against the giants besieging the great royal castle is a particularly well done thing - I certainly appreciated that both humans and giants fight in a rather logical way and human army is definitely not a push-over...
The best character in the film and a scene stealer is Elmont, a sarcastic noble knight commanding royal guard, played very VERY convincingly by Ewan McGregor who seizes this occasion to remind the public, that he once played Obi-wan Kenobi and that after all he killed Darth Maul and General Grievous and defeated and mutilated Darth Vader... Frankly, I almost expected Elmont to finally use his light-saber and I was very surprised when he didn't...
Stanley Tucci who plays the main villain Roderick is another scene stealer, with his quasi Monty Pythonesque style - it is clear he had tons of fun playing in this film. Ewan Bremer, who plays his slightly deranged murderous sidekick Wicke, is another delight to watch.
Compared to those three characters and to all the gallery of giants, both Jack and the Princess seem a little pale - this is the reason I give this film only four stars instead of five.
Children younger than 11 can find this film TOO SCARY, as there are numerous scenes when giants EAT PEOPLE - and even if there is no gore and everything happens fast and is shown in some distance, the scenes are explicit enough to leave no doubt that a character had just his head and shoulders ripped of the rest of his body and swallowed by a enormous, ugly, very strong, very fast and very agressive monster.
But bottom line, I liked this film and I spend a good moment watching it - and I think we will buy the DVD when it is available. Although not a masterpiece, this is a nice, easy, visually very impressive film.
on April 1, 2013
The story of Jack and his magical beanstalk dates back to Viking times and over the past 1400 years, we have yet to be sick of it. Countless versions of this story exist in virtually every format of entertainment imaginable. The story is a good one though and in the hands of the talented director Bryan Singer, this version is certainly one of the best.
Jack the Giant Slayer stars Nicholas Hoult whose star is on the rise. Fresh off of his other starring role as R in Warm Bodies, Hoult functions well as the underestimated, romantic hero. The main story is mostly familiar. Jack is trusted with a task to sell items for money, but he returns home with no money and a handful of "magic beans." The magical properties of the beans are unleashed when they become wet in a rainstorm sending Jack's house, and inadvertently the King's daughter Isabelle, up to a legendary land of giants via a massive beanstalk. King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) organizes a team to rescue his daughter lead by his trusted knight Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and including Jack as well as the plotting Roderick (Stanley Tucci) who the princess has been promised to for marriage.
The giants are truly spectacular. They are easily 20 feet tall and have a very clever form of motivation based on a previous war between man and giant, which resulted in them being magically enslaved by a magic crown. Nonetheless, they are vengeful and dangerous, bringing a real threat of danger and excitement to the story. Furthermore, Singer allows several opportunities for tongue-in-cheek humor to permeate the already clever adventure story that takes place up the beanstalk. Simply put, a strong case is made for Stanley Tucci to have a part in every movie.
The only issue the film has going against it lies in its first act. Singer's film begins a bit slowly with terse voice-over narration of parallel backstories for young Jack and young Isabelle. The children playing these parts deliver excruciatingly clichéd performances, and it was at this point that I admit I was worried.
Consequently, I must pause here to mention that this review comes with a brief stipulation. When it comes to re-making a fairy-tale, there are many pitfalls that can occur; a major one is choosing the right audience. Aside from this tepid opening segment, Bryan Singer actually has made a film that would exist more comfortably in Middle Earth than in Disney World. It embraces its world of man-eating giants and has fun with it. This decision certainly enhances the film's entertainment value, but it also takes a familiar children's tale and puts it just out of reach for children to enjoy. Creating an opening scene so clearly not in congruence with the rest of the film sets the incorrect initial mood that is hard to shake once the movie gets good. However, if you can make the leap, this film definitely functions much better as a romantic action film than as a cute and safe children's tale.
That being said, I liked Jack the Giant Slayer. I also recommend seeing it in 3-D, which is a recommendation I can honestly say I would give to no more than five films. This is a fun, entertaining, funny, and good looking film that is easy to enjoy once the film figures out what it is and who it's aimed at. B
Rumored that "Jack" was doomed to flop, you may assume that going into the film that it may be terrible. That isn't the case. It was just an expensive film to make, approximately $190 million. Based on the fact, that Warner Brothers Studios has numerous movies ("Harry Potter", "Dark Knight", "The Hobbit") in its pocket that will make up for whatever loss, if any, "Jack" sustains, you should not weep for them. Although, you may consider whether or not to take the time to go see it in theaters or get the bluray/DVD.
Why not! It's a fun movie. Not to mention, it is one of those rare movies that anybody in the family can watch and enjoy. There are some dark moments in the film and some mildly scary moments, but it's all fun. We all know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and now, with today's incredible technology, we can see this fairy tale, mostly imagined up to this point, in vivid 3-D and live action or CG action.
Director Bryan Singer knows a thing or two about bring us fairy tale characters. He's directed two X-Men films and a Superman film. So, telling the story of Jack and his magical beans is right up his alley. We all know the story and Singer managed to keep those same elements in the film. The best part about "Jack the Giant Slayer" is the script; until the ending. Most of the time, these type movies are made just to appease the visual desires of a film-goer, but this film has many surprising twists and turns. Although, it isn't without a little bit of criticism from this reviewer.
The first two-thirds of the film are filled with surprises and quality writing that keeps the audience riveted. When the humans enter the world of the giants, I found the whole experience to be incredibly realized and reminiscent of the movie "King Kong". It was amazing and frightening at the same time, especially when one giant tracks down a running human as if he were catching a mouse and picked him up as if his catch was pretty much insignificant.
My beef comes from the choices made in the final third of the film. They had built up so much possibility with script direction. There was the world of the giants. There was the love story between Jack and Princess Isabelle. There was the massive treasure that the giants had horded overtime from the humans. Yet, I think that they chose the less interesting of directions for the film. Battle; not in the more interesting giant world, but in the human world. The giants are really just mindlessly driven to battle. They have no heart-filled reason to do so, they just want to destroy and steal. We've seen so many battles on film in so many movies and they are always less interesting than a human motivated storyline. There was a reason for battle in "Braveheart". There was a reason for battle in "Glory", "The Lord of the Rings" or "Saving Private Ryan", but the reason for this battle was just boring.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" is a great time at the movies for the whole family, I just wish it had a ending that was as personal and interesting as the rest of the film. Instead, we get an ending that reminded me of Burton's "Alice and Wonderland"; uninteresting CG junk.
on June 5, 2013
My kids and I loved the movie. It was nice to see some new twists with an old classic. It was also nice seeing a strong female actress. Violence yes, sex and nudity no. Oh and I love Ewan McGregor everything!
on June 22, 2013
I really enjoyed this movie, and I think that Jack, Nicholas Hoult (who also played in "Warm Bodies") was a good choice for the story. The effects were great. Again, one the whole family can enjoy. The Giants have a little grouse humor, as human eating creatures do. The story was great and I will send this one to my grandson in DVD also. Family movie night was a success with this one also. I pre release ordered this movie, so got a good price through Amazon. Also through Prime, it was here on release date.
on April 3, 2013
"Jack the Giant Slayer" is yet another attempt by Hollywood to revamp fairy tales and fantasies by name directors. Tim Burton did it. Sam Raimi, too. Even Terry Gilliam. It's only natural that Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects" "X-Men") directs the updated version of the famous fairy tale. And like many previous efforts, the film is visually attractive, but needs better storytelling.
Nicholas Hoult plays a young farm boy Jack, who falls in love with Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who runs away from the palace. When the Princess has been carried away up into the sky (in a rather contrived fashion), Jack volunteers to join the rescue party including scheming Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci) and the King's elite guard Elmont (Ewan McGregor).
The story takes too much time to get going, with a prologue about the giants and back stories about the main characters, but once it gets started, the film is entertaining with thrilling action set-pieces, in which human actors, motion-capture giants and CG-created beanstalks blend pretty effectively. Special effects are decent, if not outstanding, and the sceneries and castle of the Kingdom of Cloister are beautiful to see.
For all the enjoyable action sequences, however the film has a feel of "been there, done that." Two young stars do their best, but, likeable as they are, the hero and heroine are bland, and I wanted to see more of Ewan McGregor's dashing Elmont, which is the best part of the film.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" is just an OK adventure film that is in need of creative ideas on how to tell a familiar story. The film needs something creative and unique that is briefly seen in its clever ending.
on June 22, 2013
I really enjoyed this movie and wanted to start off by saying that the 3D version is the way to go with this movie and I will go into a little more detail on the 3D later, but first the story.
This movie is a re-imagining of Jack and the Beanstalk. Jack, played by Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, X-Men: First Class), who grows up listening to the story of Giants that live on a land in the sky and come down to earth by beanstalks that grow from magic beans, and have a hunger for humans. Erik the king makes a crown from the heart of a giant, and whoever has the crown has the power over the giants. With the use of the crown king Erik sends the giants back to the land and the sky and chops down the beanstalk so they cannot return. Upon king Erik's death the crown and magic beans are buried with him, or so the story goes.
The movie then picks up with Jack now 18 and living with his uncle, played by Christopher Fairbank (The Fifth Element, Batman), due to both his parents being deceased. When Jack's uncle sends him to town to sell a horse and cart he meets and saves the princess Isabelle, played by Eleanor Tomlinson (Alice in Wonderland). While trying to sell his horse after saving the princess and having his cart stolen, he runs into a monk, whose has stolen the beans and is being sought after by the kings most trusted adviser Roderick, played by Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games, Captain America: The First Avenger). In exchange for the horse the monk gives Jack the magic beans. When Jack returns home with the beans and no money his uncle becomes upset with Jack and spills the beans on the floor. One bean falls in a crack in the floorboard. Later that night a bad storm hits, and well I guess you know what happens when the bean gets wet and this is where the movie really starts to take off.
The cast did a terrific job and, there are alot of good actors, besides the ones I mentioned above. Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode 2&3) plays Elmont, Bill Nighy (Underworld) plays General Fallon, Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) plays the king, and the list goes on. They did a wonderful job casting this movie.
The visuals were really well done also. The landscapes looked really vast and beautiful. The land in the sky was really awesome and I loved the waterfall. The giants are really well detailed, right down to the hair on their noses. I also like the POV shots from the giants perspective, it really gives you a since of how tall the giants are.
The 3D was really well done and like I mentioned earlier, it is definitely the way to watch this movie. The depth is nicely done and adds alot to the film, especially in the POV shots I talked about above from the giants perspective and also with the landscapes. There are also some nice pop outs here and there, mostly flying debris, but it all helps to just immerse you into the movie.
Overall this movie was a great experience and should definitely be recommended. If you have a 3D setup you have to watch it in 3D, I just can't stress that enough. If you don't have a 3D setup this movie is still worth checking out. If you enjoyed Lord of the Rings you will definitely enjoy this, because it has a Lord of the Rings feel to it, with the story and the vast landscapes. Anyway be sure to check this one out, you won't be disappointed!
on December 30, 2014
Jack the Giant Slayer was a better movie than I had expected. A handful of big names lend their talent to make this a good movie as well.
The story is known to most, Jack get beans, plants them and they grow up to the sky. He climbs the stalk and, here's where it detours from the norm, he finds a whole civilization of giants.
The storyline is good because it's both recognizable yet different. The acting is good because the producers paid for good actors. The animation, such as it was (CGI), was really good.
Jack will have you rooting for him. Let the kids watch too. They'll enjoy it as well.
on August 14, 2014
I have a smart TV and this particular 3D movie is unbelievable with the special effects.
Great story and it does not drag. The story is different than the true Jack and the Beanstalk, but it has some similiarities
I don't think this movie would be as good without the 3D effect.