Film Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

daniel cohen slays the new Bryan Singer film…


Plot: After Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a simple farmer, obtains supposed magic beans from a monk (Simon Lowe) in town, Jack and the Princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) of Cloister accidentally get tangled up in a massive beanstalk, a gateway into the land of giants. The King (Ian McShane) sends an army of his best troops led by Elmont (Ewan McGregor) to retrieve the Princess, while the King’s most trusted Advisor (Stanley Tucci) secretly plans on using the giants to rule the Kingdom by igniting an ancient war.

So this is what happens when you take all the boring parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and make it into one movie. We complain so often about Hollywood re-using old material, but this one really takes the cake. Jack and the Beanstalk … really? We needed this? But I’m a fair man, and willing to give anything a chance. But when you open your movie with horrible kid acting, horrible animation, and a score so loud and generic, I know right off the bat that nobody cared about this project.

The acting is just putrid. When I looked at who the cast was afterwards though, I was shocked. First of all, Jack is played by Nicholas Hoult, who was great as Hank McCoy/Beast in X-Men: First Class, and I hear good things about Warm Bodies. But wow, is he horrendous here. Completely flat, no energy whatsoever. It’s as if he was thinking about how awesome X-Men: Days of Future Past is going to be, and was barely attentive during his scenes. He acts opposite Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Princess Isabelle. Their romantic sub-plot is painful, about one notch above Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. And I get this movie isn’t for me, and more for kids. But if I was a kid sitting in that movie theater, I would have been bored out of my mind. Nothing happens in the first hour that is remotely entertaining.

I was also disheartened to see Stanley Tucci and Ian McShane here. Come on, guys? You really had to do this? McShane sleepwalks through this, and Tucci is awful as the mustache twirling villain. He’s such an obvious cliche of the ‘I’m going to marry the King’s daughter, and screw over the entire kingdom’ guy within the first five seconds he’s on screen. In the words of Chandler Bing, ‘Could I be any more of a villain?’He’s also got an unbelievably irritating sidekick named Wicke, played by Ewen Bremner, who is just relentless at being annoying.

The one guy who seemed to be trying his hardest though was Ewan McGregor. Would somebody give this man a good franchise movie? McGregor is dedicated in everything he does, and brings a desperate need of charisma and charm to the film. It’s hard watching him get rolled up in a massive crepe by a giant though. Wasn’t being with Hayden Christensen embarrassing enough? Not only that, but the moment that made me want to put a lightsaber through my heart is when McGregor’s character says ‘I have an awfully bad feeling about this.’ Get it? Because he was in Star Wars. Haha.

Speaking of bad jokes, there are plenty of them in this filth. It’s puns galore as we get a character saying ‘he didn’t spill the beans.’ Oh, and let’s not forget when there’s a giant sleeping, and someone refers to the situation as ‘waking a sleeping giant.’ I bet the screenwriters stroked a cat while laughing maniacally when they thought of that one. But if the puns weren’t bad enough, there’s plenty of fart and booger jokes to go around, so don’t worry! I’m really glad CG exists so we can make giant boogers. Yay for Hollywood.

And while the movie got a little better as it went along, and had a few nice shots of characters jumping from one place to another, the first two thirds were just so bland and juvenile, I had already checked out. When are these filmmakers going to realize that you can’t just bank on 15 minutes of cool action when everything else is just so bad. If I don’t care about the characters, I won’t care about the action. Pearl Harbor anyone?

But after all my complaining, I still haven’t even gotten to the worst part yet. There’s a point where all the stories basically wrap-up, and you think the movie is going to end. We get to the standard, ‘let’s pretend like we’re going to get a sequel’ moment, but just when you think it’s about to cut to the credits, the movie continues for another twenty minutes! And despite a very cool villain death for one of the main giants, the end was just loud and obnoxious. It was like watching a Transformers movie in medieval times.

Speaking of medieval times, is there a reason why your protagonist is wearing a sweat shirt with a skull on it, brown leather jacket, and jeans? I know it’s a nit-pick, but it is the main character. Couldn’t the costume designers have tried a little harder?

Well, I think when I start commenting on the costumes, it’s probably time to end the review. And that’s what I desperately wanted this movie to do … end. The director for this was Bryan Singer. Remember when Bryan Singer directed the Usual Suspects and the first two X-Men films? I pray he sleepwalked through this because he was planning out scenes for X-Men: Days of Future Past in between takes. We can only hope.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10 (Atrocious)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.