by Michelle McGlynn
The latest addition to an ever-growing list of ill-considered fairy tale remakes is Jack the Giant Slayer. It is being marketed as an epic adventure and is not surprisingly in 3D. Even less surprising is that this feature is just as mediocre as its fellow fairy tale adaptations.
As a young boy, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) listened in awe as his parents told him tales of giants and the king who conquered them. The same night, in the castle the young princess is equally enthralled as the queen recites the same tale. Despite their differences, these two children share a love for tales of giants and general adventure. This is a love that Jack and Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) take with them through to adulthood where we meet them again. In a shocking twist, Jack goes to the market to sell a horse rather than a cow. There is a chance meeting with Isabelle as she has escaped the castle and her guardians, a common occurrence we are told. Jack ends up with some magic beans and these beans are accidentally planted. A giant beanstalk shoots up into the sky taking Jack’s home and the princess who is trapped inside up to the land of the giants. Jack goes forth to rescue the princess along with a knight, Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and the obviously villainous advisor to the king, Roderick (Stanley Tucci). Can they rescue the princess and save the kingdom of Cloister or will they become appetisers for the giant folk?
Another 3D adventure film with one dimensional characters and script. Have we not reached our limits with this sort of nonsense? It is as if film makers now believe that if you spend a lot of money on CGI and 3D effects then you can just fling together any excuse for a film. The visuals are decent but not massively impressive. The giants have been realised in disgusting detail, down to their very toe nails. But the visuals are not enough to rescue this feature.
With a runtime just under two hours, the film should not drag as much as it does. We root for the heroes to vanquish the giants not because we are particularly invested in the story but because we just want it to be over. When the princess is returned safely and things appear to be wrapping up, we anticipate a quick happily-ever-after wrap-up only to realise that this is not the end. We slouch back into our seats and watch disinterestedly as the climactic battle commences.
Jack and Isabelle have a textbook romance. Efforts to create a more progressive female character for Isabelle fail. Instead her character’s story is entirely lifted from that of Princess Jasmine in Aladdin, only less interesting. Both Jack and Isabelle fall flat and the romance seems superfluous.
Nicholas Hoult is utterly bland as the boyish, innocuous farm boy. His lack of personality and charmless performance make it needlessly difficult to care about whether he succeeds or fails. However, Eleanor Tomlinson proves to be his perfect match. It is easy to imagine their mundane life together.
Ewan McGregor serves to make life even more difficult for Hoult as he effortlessly exudes charm. McGregor takes to the role of the gallant knight with ease and seems to relish every moment. His character is as flat as the rest, but even this cannot quell his charisma.
Jack and Giant Slayer is so predictable and unengaging that it is only likely to entertain the very young. However, the violence will probably prove too much for them. There is a very narrow age-group that will be old enough for the more violent scenes and young enough to resist boredom. But I think these children deserve better than this tired rubbish.