Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
This is just getting ridiculous.
Jack the Giant Slayer is about a peasant boy from England who, on one fateful day, goes into town to sell the family horse. As fate would have it, nothing goes as planned. The horse gets stolen, he nearly gets killed for crossing paths with the princess, and all he has to show for it is a handful of “magic beans.” He goes back home with his head held low and soon finds out that his beans are no joke. In a mere matter of seconds, a huge-ass beanstalk shoots out of the ground and takes his whole damn home along with it. Not only that, but the damn princess is locked inside because she’d run away from home. Realizing that a beanstalk is no place for a princess, the peasant boy teams up with all the king’s men to rescue the girl and bring her back to safety. They reach the top, survey the land that’s floating in the clouds and soon come to realize that the legends are true. This land belongs to giants, and them giants hold a grudge.
Alright, that’s enough of that.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assume I wasn’t the only one throwing shade at this nonsense when they first saw the trailer. I understand the logic that comes with Hansel and Gretel becoming witch hunters, but this? This is a bit much. To its credit, it just now dawned on me that it isn’t in fact based on Jack and the Beanstalk like I originally thought. Amazingly enough, someone in the 18th Century actually wrote a folk tale called Jack the Giant Killer that, to the best of my knowledge, isn’t far off from what this is about. And while it sure would have been nice to know that from the start, that doesn’t make this sound any less stupid.
Am I the only one who was unaware of this? My childhood suddenly feels so…deprived. Anyway, the upside to all this is that Jack starts out strong.
I don’t know about you, but is there a better way to start off a movie than with a Warwick Davis cameo? Of course there’s not, don’t bother debating it. And how about that Nicholas Hoult? No matter how many times I say it, I still can’t believe that’s the kid from About a Boy. The novelty hasn’t faded and he’s turned into quite the leading man to boot. Speaking of broken records, I still and always will have all kinds of time for my man Ewan McGregor. Always great to see him play the occasional badass and, boy, is he rocking some awfully sharp duds. Don’t even get me started on the hair. Ain’t no giant gonna mess with that hair.
And let’s not forget about Stanley Tucci. Too bad his character’s such an under-developed, single-minded prick of a bad guy, but hey, it’s Stanley Tucci we’re talking about. The man can do no wrong.
Bonus points for Ian McShane. Someone give that man more work.
Now that I think about it, it doesn’t start off strong as much as it successfully casts some actors that I like. The only real eyebrow-raiser of the bunch being Bryan Singer in the director’s chair, a casting decision that is by and large the most confusing thing about this movie. Please refer back to the title to fully appreciate the gravity of that statement.
Remember when Bryan Singer was doing stuff like The Usual Suspects and the first two X-Men movies? Those were some good times, huh? Dude had his whole career ahead of him, but for reasons that may forever elude me, he takes the check and signs on for this. Poor guy must be hard up these days because this is so far beneath the man who gave us Superman Returns. That’s right, Superman Returns was good. There, I said it.
I really don’t know why he bothered with this. For a special director who’s wowed us all before. there’s really nothing special about it. Maybe he had kids or something and he’s pulling a George Lucas. Whatever the reason, his name is attached and there’s nothing we can do about it now. Single tear.
So, what can we assume he was at least trying to accomplish here? Well if Jack the Giant Slayer was out to achieve anything, face value implies that it was out to entertain. As nice as that would have been, it doesn’t really happen. Not to say that it’s torture by any means, it just isn’t what I was hoping for: that it would somehow rise above my low expectations. I wanted it to make me laugh on occasion, despite my assumption that it most likely wouldn’t. I wanted the cast to live up to their potential, to infuse this thing with some character that didn’t feel stock. Sadly, these things did not happen.
The whole time I was watching, I was waiting for that moment where disbelief would suspend and this war against giants suddenly wouldn’t seem so ridiculous. After all, I’ve seen my fair share of movies that ended up being surprisingly good despite their own premise. If they could do it, so Jack. Unfortunately for Aiden, this too does not happen.
What we have here is not much more than a by-the-books story that follows another unlikely hero in his quest to save another princess in distress. It’s Super Mario Bros. (the game, not the movie), only way less fun and with more 3D (even though that franchise is now full of 3D). The dialogue’s also stale, there’s a surprising amount of it to be had and there’s only so much the cast can do to save it. As for the laughs, well, that all depends. If your problem with, say, Seinfeld, boils down to a serious lack of boogers and farts, then git ‘er done, this one’s for you. For everyone else, there’s always TBS.
On the bright side, the kids’ll love it. Farting giants and PG-13? What’s not to love? And in case I’m coming off harsher than needed, it’s worth reiterating that this isn’t a bad movie. I saw it on a plane, it served its purpose. But if I hadn’t been taking notes to remember all this stuff, I doubt I would have had this much to say. Jack the Giant Slayer could have been better, but given its goddamn premise and title, it definitely could have been worse. It is what it is and it’s oh so forgettable.
PS: What was up with that dumbass, non-twist of an ending? Seriously, who thinks of this stuff?