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Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

March 1, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer PosterJack the Giant Slayer – A Warner Bros. Release

Release Date: March 1st, 2013

Rated PG for frightening scenes and violence

Running time: 114 minutes

Bryan Singer (dir.)

Darren Lemke (screenplay)

Christopher McQuarrie (screenplay)

Dan Studney (screenplay)

John Ottman (music)

Nicholas Hoult as Jack

Eleanor Tomlinson as Isabelle

Ewan McGregor as Elmont

Stanley Tucci as Roderick

Bill Nighy as General Fallon

Ian McShane as King Brahmwell

Eddie Marsan as Crawe

Ewen Bremner as Wicke

Cornell John as Fee

Andrew Brooke as Fye

Angus Barnett as Foe

Ben Daniels as Fumm

Jack the Giant Slayer

©Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Elmont (Ewan McGregor), Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Jack (Nicholas Hoult) in Jack the Giant Slayer.

Our reviews below:


Jack the Giant Slayer Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Hollywood has had a bit of a resurgence in the past few years of live action fairy tales, and Jack the Giant Slayer is the best one yet in this recent string of films.  Directed by Bryan Singer, this is a surprisingly entertaining and always fun fantasy adventure, with a clever script and a good cast led by the appealing Nicholas Hoult in the title role.

Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a poor farm boy who trades his horse for a handful of magic beans.  But when the magic beans accidentally get wet and fall beneath his house, they grow into a beanstalk that stretches into the sky and rockets the Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) high above the clouds.  Jack climbs the beanstalk with royal guard Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and the scheming Roderick (Stanley Tucci), in order to rescue the Princess.  But they are confronted by a mythical civilization of boorish giants who wage an epic battle with the humans, led by the ruthless two-headed General Fallon (Bill Nighy).

This is the way that the classic fairy tale would be told by a kid with an overactive imagination, a high flying fantasy that arrives with all of the classic elements intact, but also with a surprisingly clever story behind the proceedings.  The CGI work throughout the film is impressive, and the giants have been created through motion capture technology that brings them to life in all of their grisly and unpleasant glory.  But what also elevates the film above some other live action fairy tales is the genuinely likeable title character played by Nicholas Hoult, an underdog hero who we root for to succeed.

This is an adventure film that hits the ground running and never lets up, providing surprisingly brisk entertainment throughout the 114 minute running time.  Whether you are just discovering the fairy tale or remember it from your own childhood, Jack the Giant Slayer is a lot of fun.


Jack the Giant Slayer Review by Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

When the film opens, we are introduced to the backstory of an ancient war between the land of humans and the land of giants in the clouds.  This is where we first meet farmboy Jack as his father reads him this story, and the princess Isabelle as her mother reads her the very same story.

Cut to ten years later – where 18 year old Jack (Nicholas Hoult) goes into the village to sell his uncle’s horse and cart.  Once there, he gets distracted, first by stories of giants being performed, and then by the princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson).  To make matters worse, he then accidentally trades the horse for magic beans.  Later that night, Isabelle shows up at Jack’s house looking for shelter from a rain storm.  Like earlier, she has left the castle looking for an adventure, and they quickly recognize each other.

Unfortunately at that moment, the magic beans get wet and a giant beanstalk takes Jack’s house – princess and all – up into the clouds.  When the king and guards show up wondering where the princess has gone, Jack volunteers to go with the guards (led by Ewan McGregor) up the beanstalk to help rescue her.  Joining them is the power-hungry Roderick (Stanley Tucci), who is betrothed to the princess and has plans of his own that include a magical crown.  What they all find up there are the giants of legend and just as the beanstalk gives them a way up, it gives the giants a way down.

The film Jack the Giant Slayer is based on the two fairy tales Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer.  With a classic good vs. evil storyline, an action-packed finale, and a sweet fairy tale romance between Jack and Isabelle (who are both likeable and strong characters) the film is a ton of fun – in fact, I quite enjoyed this one.  The special effects are good as is the 3D effect, and the actors all seem to be having a good time.  Jack the Giant Slayer will be enjoyed by most 8+, and provides a fun time at the movies for the young and young-at-heart alike.


Jack the Giant Slayer Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Jack the Giant Slayer combines two English and Scottish legends, the well known fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer.  The film opens with a backstory involving some rogue monks that reminds people it is wrong to try and be God.  Disaster ensues, until a magic crown made from a slain giant’s heart that makes its wearer ruler of the giants, is given to then-King Erik.

Fast forward many years, and a young Jack is told the legend of the giants.  Meanwhile, a young Princess named Isabelle also hears the story of the sky giants.  Ten years later, the familiar story of Jack is told.  What makes the movie fresh and original is the clever script and the steady pace of the film.  Instead of one giant and his wife, there are several, all caveman-type boors who munch on pigs and people in a blanket.  The violence is restrained and bloodless.  The giants are as disgusting as they are entertaining, including a two-headed giant named General Fallon (Bill Nighy) who converses between his verbal and non-verbal noggin.

The giant slayings are stylized and clever, with one giant meeting a gross yet ingenious end.  But Jack the Giant Slayer has more than battles.  The scenery, particularly in the sky giants’ realm, is just gorgeous.  The forests, streams, caves and waterfalls depict a world uncorrupted by humans.  One could draw on vaguely ecological themes about the devastating consequences that occur when people play God and try to claim the natural world for themselves.

The romance between the adorable Jack and Isabelle is just heartwarming.  Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) is a strong female character who can stand on her own.  Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is cute, intelligent and charming, and is sure to appeal to the teenage girl demographic.  The acting in Jack the Giant Slayer is decent, mature and clever.  The special effects are good, yet not realistic to the point of being too scary for the 8 and up crowd.

Jack the Giant Slayer is a fun movie that will appeal to a wide age range.  This is a perfect choice for the March break.


Jack the Giant Slayer Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Fee-fi-fo-fum, Jack the Giant Slayer actually is fun.  The film opens with parallel scenes, alternating between a young farm boy named Jack being read a bedtime story about giants in the sky, and young Princess Isabelle hearing the same bedtime fairy tale read by her mother.  Flash forward ten years, when 18-year-old Jack (Nicholas Hoult) comes to the rescue of the now grown up Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who has snuck out of the castle to watch a local theatre production about King Erik and the legendary giants.

True to the original fairy tale, Jack ends up trading his uncle’s farm horse for a small sack of magic beans.  “Make sure they don’t get wet,” warns the scared Monk who sells them to Jack.  With a warning like that, you know one of the beans will get wet and stuff is going to happen.  Sure enough, a giant beanstalk erupts through Jack’s floorboards, carrying his house along with the visiting Princess up through the clouds where some nasty tempered, foul mannered and dirty giants are licking their lips at the thought of eating humans again.

Jack joins the palace guards, including loyal Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and the conniving Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci) along with his dimwitted sidekick Wicke (Ewen Bremner), on a rescue mission to climb the vine and return the Princess to her waiting father, King Brahmwell (Ian McShane).  Battles between the humans and the waiting giants ensue, with the action being fast-paced and fun to watch.  The giants are gross to watch at times with the “pigs on a blanket” cooking scene being the most memorable.

The giants are computer-generated and motion-captured, brought to life by actors like Bill Nighy who plays the lead two-headed giant General Fallon, with John Kassir as his less intelligent second head.  The special effects are good here, but never quite feel real.  But that’s okay, because this is a fairy tale that knows it’s a fairy tale.  At its core is a story with a fairy tale ending.  Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson are really sweet together as the unlikely pair.

The good performances from the leads, including a fun performance by Stanley Tucci, fast-paced dialogue and action all add up to an entertaining 114 minutes.  Jack the Giant Slayer is suitable for kids 8 and up, depending on their tolerance for scary looking and gross behaving giants.


Jack the Giant Slayer Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Jack the Giant Slayer is a version of the Jack tales of British folklore suitable for older children and adults. Both the poor farm boy Jack (Nicholas Hoult) and the princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) are told the same back story in a prologue that nicely cuts back and forth between them. Centuries earlier, a race of giants with a taste for human flesh had been subdued by a magic crown and banished to a realm between heaven and earth called Gargantua. The crown and some beans that would grow into beanstalks that could reach Gargantua had been buried and their memory lost to legend.

Roderick (Stanley Tucci), a wicked courtier promised in marriage to the princess by the king (Ian McShane) steals the crown but by a strange sequence of events Jack manages to get the beans and meet the princess out for adventure, just as one seed gets away and a beanstalk pops up with the princess on it. She is taken hostage by the giants and a rescue party of the palace guard led by Elmont (Ewan McGregor) is sent up with Jack and Roderick, who has world conquest on his mind.

Jack the Giant Slayer is a lot of fun, with a charming couple of lead characters, a great supporting cast, and non-stop action over its almost two hours. The giants are a vile race of hideous males with severe hygiene issues, led by General Fallon, who like Zaphod Beeblebrox has two heads, the main one (Bill Nighy) doing most of the talking in a variation of his Davy Jones accent and the smaller head (John Kassir) somewhat less articulate.

Movies like this rely heavily on special effects, and it delivers quite nicely, as long as one remembers that it is a fantasy. The family friendly script doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the background score heavy on brass and percussion adds to the fun during the inevitable battle scenes. As usual, the 3D is a nice bonus but really unnecessary for those on a budget.


Consensus: With good CGI special effects and a strong cast led by the appealing Nicholas Hoult, Jack the Giant Slayer is a fun and surprisingly entertaining fantasy adventure that provides a clever take on the classic fairy tale.  *** (Out of 4)

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