Throughout Jack the Giant Slayer, our title character played by Nicholas Hoult has a look on his face that seems like it should be accompanied with the phrase, “are you #*@#ing kidding me?”.
Surely, this is supposed to be aimed towards a giant beanstalk leading towards an army of grotesque giants that live in the sky, but it’s a more appropriate telling of what I was asking myself while watching Bryan Singer’s latest action/adventure.
The script for Jack the Giant Slayer is supposed to combine elements from two fairy tales, ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ and ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, while also making the darker material more suitable for younger moviegoers.
After the script had been written, it was re-written, re-tooled, re-shaped, and Singer himself also made some changes here and there. The team behind Jack the Giant Slayer may have been pleased with the final script going into production, but what made it onto the screen still feels disheveled.
We’re introduced to Jack, a poor farmhand, as well as other towns folk including monks and royalty. The most interesting character is the conniving Lord Roderick (played by the always memorable Stanley Tucci) who is set to marry Isabelle, the King’s daughter, who would rather kiss a frog than to marry Roderick.
Beans are exchanged and accidentally planted, a beanstalk grows, and Princess Isabelle (played by Eleanor Tomlinson) is swept up in the chaos and into the clouds. And so, Jack and a team of the kingdom’s best men – and Lord Roderick – take to the beanstalk to rescue Isabelle.
They climb…and climb…and climb some more, for what feels like a third of the film. One of Jack the Giant Slayer’s very few strengths is this beanstalk. It may become an unpleasant haul watching this team search, but this mystical plant is detailed very well and Singer does a good job with its scale from the ground. Seeing this in IMAX 3D, you definitely start to develop a fear of heights.
Action pieces are spaced out awkwardly, which is a drag for those families wanting a mindless romp featuring plenty of fights. In fact, Jack the Giant Slayer wraps up without a climactic giants vs. humans brawl. However, it’s almost as if the screenwriters noticed this, didn’t want to make anymore changes, and threw in a haphazardly fight to make use of its passable 3D and to attempt to wake audiences up.
This is a swashbuckling adventure. There needed to be more action to liven up the pacing, generate excitement and create hero statuses for Jack and his motley crew. Watching these men search high and low while rambling and finding ridiculous clues is undoubtably the opposite of this in a flick that promises “non-stop fun”.
The film is silly – and knows it – but, the tie-ins to the original fairy tales in Jack the Giant Slayer are dopey and will have your eyes rolling around in your head. For instance, the main Giant’s go-to goons are named Fee, Fi, Fo, and Fum. That’s not clever. That’s a clunky mechanic to create a relationship with this story to something we’re familiar with.
Jack the Giant Sayer is a crummy equation. Mix poor screenwriting with dull direction, embarrassing performances, and special effects that utilize motion capture technology that look less than “special”, and you have an action/adventure that’s fee, fi, fo, dumb.