Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer (***)

Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer (***)


Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 113 mins.

Premise: An epic, LOTR-flavored retelling of the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.  Jack (Warm Bodies' Nicholas Hoult) gets some magic beans that open a beanstalk gateway to a land of giants in the sky.  Can Jack save the princess he loves, and avert an all-out war between humans and giants?

Behind-the-Scenes: Was originally supposed to come out last June under the title, Jack the Giant Killer.  Warner Bros. pushed it to now to give director Bryan Singer more time to fine-tune the effects, ramp up the marketing, and change the  "Killer" to "Slayer" to make it more family friendly.  Still, all you'll probably hear about is the opening box office take of $27 million against a budget of upwards of $200 million.  Welcome to John Carter territory.

The Good: This Jack is an enjoyable family adventure film, fun for almost all ages.  I went in with low expectations given the terrible trailers and other uninspired marketing efforts, and was pleasantly surprised.  The movie is well-paced, fairly exciting, and appropriately goofy.  The beanstalk sequences (climbing, falling, swinging) are breathtaking.  The battle sequences are cleanly staged and shot.  Singer is a consummate pro behind the camera, and has made a better movie out of material that, in the wrong hands, could have easily gone south.  Hoult continues to prove himself to be a compelling leading man, even if there's not much to his Jack character on the page.

The Bad:  The visual effects are hit and miss.  Sometimes the giants look fantastic; other times it looks like the effects artists needed another year to get them right.  Regardless, the design of the giants is ugly and off-putting.  The story and plotting are predictable and strictly by-the-numbers.  The ending, which leaves room for a sequel, is a bit muddled.  It desperately wants to be an adventure on the scale of The Hobbit, and that desperation shows at times.

Should You See It?:  Yes, if you've got some kids who are interested in seeing it.  Makes for a pleasant, if unexceptional, Saturday matinee.

Rating: *** out of 5 stars.

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