Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) Poster

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7/10
A lot better than I thought.
MR_Heraclius14 February 2020
Jack the Giant Slayer is a hit and miss for the majority of this film it provides all the classic clichés and parts that we would see in a well known children's fairytale and it provides a fair bit of the usual good special effects and action sequences but outside that there isn't that much good about it
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7/10
A film your children can watch
siderite1 June 2013
Unlike many of Hollywood's reimaginings of fairy tales, this film is actually decent. One can let children watch this in the same manner our grandparents were reading the original stories. It has morals, it is pretty, actors play well and, most of all, it is not condescendingly stupid. Instead, one can actually enjoy this on almost all levels.

It was funny to see actors Ewan McGregor and Ewen Bremner play in a film together again (Rents and Spud), but they had no real interaction. Nicholas Hoult was OK as the hero of the story and Stanley Tucci, as usual, a great villain. The one that was rather disappointing was the princess, clearly a role that was not really thought out much more than "cute damsel in distress, ready for the rescue". Her father wasn't much either, but at least he had lines. Also, for a movie "made in USA" a great many English actors. Even the story was set in England, as we see in the end.

Bottom line: while not the best movie ever, it was certainly an entertaining blockbuster that retained a lot of the feel and plot of the original fairy tale. It also manages to have an insane body count without actually showing any blood. The US rating system is idiotic for sure. Anyway, the movie was fun. I can recommend it for an easy watch.
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7/10
Family Faire
didonatope2 March 2013
It's pretty much a guarantee that if you grew up with fairy tales, you would certainly know the story of Jack and The Beanstalk. I know I have; when I was a kid, this story was everywhere. I saw it played out by Mickey Mouse in the "Fun and Fancy Free," by Snoopy in "The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show," and by Bugs Bunny in "Jack Wabbit and The Beanstalk." The tale is a timeless child's fantasy story, and for that alone, this movie mostly succeeds.

After the opening credits, the film opens with an introduction of our two main characters: Jack (played by Nicholas Hoult, fresh off his role in last month's "Warm Bodies") and princess Isabelle (played by Elanor Tomlinson). Just like in the original fairy tale, Jack is a poor farm hand who is tricked into trading valuable livestock (in this movie it's a horse rather than a cow) for supposed "magic beans." Princess Isabelle, however is pretty much the textbook definition of a Disney princess. Her mother is dead, her father is an over-protective king who wants her to marry someone she doesn't like, she's tired of her boring life in the palace and dreams of adventure. When I first came across this character, I immediately planned on chastising her as extremely clichéd in this review. However, once I began watching this in the context of a kids movie, I found this to be much more tolerable. Though in a 2013-released film, it still feels kind of dated.

Those expecting another "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" will be disappointed. This movie is pretty family-friendly overall and has a light hearted attitude throughout. Despite this film's hefty body count, the characters consistently joke around and get themselves into shenanigans. It could very well be irritating to those expecting a more mature fantasy based on the rating and advertising, as it does admittedly feel too silly at times. However, as a family film, the combination of violence and silliness makes it somewhat a fusion of the family films of the 80's and 90's respectively.

The rest of the characters are decently developed, including the sinister Lord Roderick (played by Stanley Tucci) and the noble knight Elmont (played by Ewan McGreggor). No character was given that much development, which I actually didn't really mind. I knew enough about each character, and in a fast-paced fairy tale like this, keeping the plot moving and interesting were the most important aspects.

The giants were pretty interesting too. In a way, they reminded me of the trolls in last year's "The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey," as they are excessively gross, uncivilized and high-tempered. I'm certain that kids will get a laugh out of their flatulent, booger-eating ways. I was initially concerned that this film would just portray them as unstoppable villains with no personality. Instead, the film fleshes them out a bit and gives them a motive for their actions. I certainly wouldn't mind a prequel film giving more meat to their hatred for mankind.

The cast gives their all, especially Nicholas Hoult. Here he brings to Jack the same charm and timidity he gave to R in "Warm Bodies." I feel that he he has the capability and likability to carry a movie as the lead role, and I look forward to his future endeavors next year.

"Jack The Giant Slayer" will reasonably divide critics and audiences, but if I had kids, I would have no problem taking them to see this. It's a fun little adventure that kids and open-minded adults will get a kick out of.
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8/10
Inoffensive and fun
jljacobi8 July 2013
I wasn't blown away by this flick, but I did enjoy it. And I also enjoyed...

1. No potty humor 2. No overt sexuality 3. No inappropriate language 4. No seemingly random 3D FX 5. No politically correct messages or characters 6. No strutting egotism

In short, it's not a Follywood movie and you can actually let your kids watch it without worrying too much. There is some violence, but...

The script is well written, the acting is better than good, and it moves along at a pretty lively pace. Not a classic, but good. It might have been better a little shorter, but that can be said of most movies these days.

I was surprised to hear so many complaints.
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9/10
Very Underrated - What Critics Didn't Understand
CelluloidDog16 October 2018
After watching this film a couple times and reading reviews, I have to come to the conclusion that many critics don't watch movies and perhaps people fell for the critics misjudgment. According to critics on RottenTomatoes, etc, Jack the Giant Slayer falls into the mediocre realm badly over budgeted. That's the only thing I think they got right. To spend $195M or so on this film simply wasn't worthwhile. Easily less could be spent on a high quality film. But that's the risk in show business. Now let's get down to the real (good) stuff.

First, there was the claim this movie wasn't a family movie since it was too scary. You have to be kidding. Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit Trilogy were far more sinister and traumatic to watch. Orcs, trolls and goblins are not pretty sights and they do the same as the giants in this movie. So strike one for the critics. This film actually is produced by Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema so it fells into the Rings and Hobbit series.

The attack on it as a non-family movie with sinister overtones isn't true. There are witty, humorous parts of the film. Perhaps not as much as there should be. So, yes it could be more fun with a couple more lines or characters.

Critics are attack it for a weak script. I don't think they listened or followed the movie. Rather the script is very well written and conceived. It's almost poetic. It opens and ends with a creative story-telling verse and the script flows well.

Direction and special effects were terrific. Acting by the main roles was reasonable, not great, so it does fall short on this account but supporting roles were terrific. If you liked Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, this apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Definitely worth watching. An 8 or 9 out of 10. (( just to boost the ratings). But, it could have been done for less money.
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6/10
Fine retelling of the familiar story
cornflakeboy2027 February 2013
In this retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, the title character and a runaway princess are thrust into the sky when vines sprouting from the magic beans vault Jack's cabin into the sky. A race of giants exiled there by the power of a magic crown plots to return below and recapture the human kingdom. The King sends a rescue party of his knights and the princess's evil fiancé to rescue the princess, and the evil prince uses the magical crown in an attempt to seize the power of the giants to take over the kingdom.

It was refreshing to find a non ironic, non meta straightforward telling of this story, with some elements of charm and humor. The 3D is fairly unspectacular, although there are great sequences, such as the collapse of the vine which causes catastrophic damage below. The body count, for a family film, is quite high, surpassing some of the later Harry Potter movies. It is also notable that there are virtually no females in either the giants' or human's realm. The cast is fine, and Nicholas Hoult makes a fine Jack, and brings more life and personality to the role than he did earlier this year with "Warm Bodies."

Most elements of the film work quite well and it has the potential to work alongside dark family fare like "The Never Ending Story" or "The Dark Crystal."
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6/10
Visually impressive but soulless
pinkled57 March 2013
As I left the theater after watching this movie I tried to put my finger on the reason why I felt so underwhelmed by what I had just watched. Perhaps it was the overly simplistic video game plot (save the princess), the lack of a well defined villain, or the lackluster development of any of the characters. In the end I couldn't precisely point to any single issue that derailed my ability to really enjoy this viewing. What this movie really lacked was the ability to engage the audience on any meaningful level whether it be emotional, mental or otherwise. In short, it's soulless. I don't know exactly what gives a movie its soul but I know when it's missing and this movie, unfortunately, was quite lacking.
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9/10
Why all the negative talk?
atrain294218 June 2013
So what was everyone expecting with this film to give it such harsh reviews and ratings? We do remember this is a children's bedtime story right? I thought that the movie was great. The giants are a little scary, depending on the child this may not be the movie for them as the giants are somewhat gruesome beasts. All the nerds out there complaining about the CGI and poor quality of the giants, go get a girlfriend, watch some sports and stop being such a geek. Special effects and CGI are fine in this movie, again this is a movie about a fairy tale so imagination should be something needed for a film about flesh hungry giants that live in the sky. Most of us know the ending to this movie without watching it, but the extra story line added in to extend the movie are entertaining and do not spoil the film or change the classic story we all know. I recommend this movie, but please watch it with an open mind and remember that your watching a film of a child fantasy story. I give this film a 9....more of a 7-8 but I threw it an extra point or two just cause all the dorks who are highly critical of such non sense regarding a film about a kids bed time story ha ha.
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7/10
7 beanstalks out of 10
martinrobertson30048223 April 2013
Or – A new take on Jack and the beanstalk. "Jack the giant slayer" takes a classic tale and breaths new life into it. So many try and fail at this, but this flick moderately succeeds. Despite a troubled production.

Film sees Jack. A young farmers son, sell his horse for some magic beans, which end up growing into a massive beanstalk. This beanstalk leads too a legendary land in the clouds, where the promised giants off the title roam. Sounds familiar? That's because it is. But its been delved into further, with more characters, some extra imagination, and many action set pieces thrown in, to make it a damn good feature length family movie.

Its not perfect. For everyone loving the fact its action packed, there will be those who find it seriously over heavy on the cartoony CGI. There are some cheesy moments, and some bad gags. But these are not overwhelming, in a film that is over all good fun.
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8/10
A Great Family Entertainment
claudio_carvalho7 July 2013
In the kingdom of Cloister, in Albion, there is a legend about giants that came from the realm of Gantua, between Earth and Heaven, using a large beam stalk and were defeated by King Eric that was wearing a magic crown.

The eighteen year-old day-dreamer farmer Jack (Nicholas Hoult) has been fascinated by this tale since he was a boy. When he goes to the market to sell his uncle's horse and cart to buy material to repair the farmhouse roof, he defends the honor of Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who is also fan of the legend and is secretly in town, and Jack has a crush on her. Then he stumbles with a monk that has stolen magic beams from the evil Roderick (Stanley Tucci), who is engaged with Isabelle, and he offers the beams to Jack to have his horse and escape from the soldiers that are chasing him. When Jack shows the beams to his uncle, he throws them on the floor, angry with the naivety of his nephew.

Meanwhile Isabelle flees from the castle to have her own adventure but she finds a storm and seeks shelter coincidently at Jack's farmhouse. But one of the beams is watered and a huge beam stalk grows, taking Jack's house with the princess trapped inside. When King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) arrives in Jack's land with his knights, he sends a team of the princess's guardians to seek out Isabelle. Jack volunteers to go with them, led by the knights Elmont (Ewan McGregor), Crawe (Eddie Marsan) and Bald (Mingus Johnston). Roderick and his right-arm Wicke (Ewen Bremner) cut the rope and most of the knights falls from the sky and dies. Soon they find the land of Gantua and learn that the giants are not legend. Will they succeed to rescue Princess Isabelle? And what are the evil intentions of Roderick and Wicke?

"Jack the Giant Slayer" is a great family entertainment with a funny and full of action story. The special effects are top-notch and as usual, professional critics, pretentious intellectuals and imbeciles do not like this type of movie, but they insist on watching it to write bad reviews. Bryan Singer again makes a great movie and the only but would be Nicholas Hoult in the role of an eighteen year-old teenager. The character could be a little older in the story. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Jack - O Caçador de Gigantes" ("Jack – The Giants Hunter")
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I liked it
Gordon-1112 February 2014
This film tells the story of a farm boy who battles giants from the sky valiantly, alongside brave soldiers and the princess of the kingdom.

I put off watching "Jack the Giant Slayer" because the giants are really ugly! During the film, I kept having sweaty palms because of the scenes involving heights. Those scenes were really scary. I liked the lead character Jack, because he is approachable boy next door. It is a refreshing tale to see him rising through the ranks and valiantly serve his country. The interweaving story telling scenes in the beginning annoyed me a little, because I thought it was a bit too forced. Overall, I like "Jack the Giant Slayer", because of the poignant ending.
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8/10
Good Aggregate
MrAnkurPandey25 June 2013
Overall it was an appreciable Direction and Cinematography; Still I felt that the Actors were not so Appealing w.e.f. Jack and the Princess Isabelle. The role of the King's troop should have been more Inclusive in the Battle. The Fantasy World of the Gaints was well depicted and Presented. What happened to them and any scope for continuation was not Pictured at the end. After all, it was a very Good and Entertaining, not only for Kids but for all. The end was Justifiable and I feel it should have had more of touch of Historical Aspects. Finally, as the Childhood Story of Jack and the Beanstalk got a Life in such Movie and I loved it...
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8/10
Brilliant for all the family.
ladcrooks28 July 2013
Being a kid at heart and not liking broad beans as a youngster I had to find what a few magical beans could do.

The cast had a quite a few well known actors which supported the quality of this film and the graphics were outstanding . The giants were superb and these would have made up for anything if the film had been bad, but there wasn't anything bad at all

The way it started as a bedtime story and the way it finished at the the ..... was a very well thought out!

Family's will love it - entertainingly all the way through that will keep your kids on the edge of their seats.
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6/10
A popcorn entertainer
vicarious_tool2 March 2013
This is a movie with a simple story, not the best acting performances and giant visual effects. So if you're up for some eye-candy and want to give your thinking brain a rest, go for it; but like I've heard from others, pick the best and biggest 3-D screen in town. Keep in mind however that this is no Life of Pi in terms of effects either.

The story is the clichéd young boy-princess-evil others trio, without much added creativity in terms of dialogues and I wasn't impressed by Nicholas Holt's acting skills either and there were some gross sequences involving the Giants, in case you like that stuff but apart from the effects I do not think it has much to offer.
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A Worthy Retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk
Flik-Off21 February 2013
I just saw this at a special screening and since I'm wring reviews more often, I thought it'd be perfect to share my thoughts on this one. 'Jack the Giant Slayer' is basically just a retelling of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, with some twists. Think of it kind of like the recent Kristin Stewart film, 'Snow White and the Huntsman'. Except, maybe this one is geared more towards the gentlemen of the crowd, where the former was the opposite. This film is as epic as 'Lord of the Rings', and if you like that kind of thing, you should enjoy this one.

I won't give away anything about the plot but you should already know the idea of what it is. There is not just one giant in this film, there are many, and there are plenty of action sequences to keep you engrossed. Nicholas Hoult plays the lead, and he holds the role well. He can also be seen in 'Warm Bodies'. Bryan Singer directs, and we all know he's responsible for 'X-Men'. Lets just say, the apple doesn't fall far from the beanstalk! I will for sure see this epic fantasy adventure again.

If you've ever played the classic PlayStation One game 'Legend of Dragoon', you'll notice a little resemblance in the war between humans and giants (gigantos in that game). Like I said in my last review- sit back and enjoy the ride, because thats what it's meant to be: not a deep thinking film.

If you think Bryan Singer is incapable of making anything decent after 'Superman Returns', think again- because you don't know jack!
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8/10
Lots of fun! Recommended.
reginaribaudo5 March 2013
Really enjoyed this movie. ONE of the best I've seen in 3-d in a long time. Loads of fun, good effects, quick paced, not boring at all. Wasn't drawn out. No gore, although some violence, but a great adaptation of the original fairy-tale. I will be buying the discs when released to add to my fantasy collection. 4 of us went to see it opening weekend, ages 44-86 and we all agreed we liked it very much! (More then originally anticipated from the reviews). An experienced cast as well. If you like the Hobbit and other films alike(ie: Pirates of Carribbean, LOTR, Willow, you will really enjoy this movie. I thought it was well worth the cost of a ticket and my time. It flowed very well and had comedy to boot.
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8/10
Entertaining!
piedbeauty372 March 2013
This was very good escapist entertainment in 3D. In the mythical kingdom of Cloister a giant beanstalk opens up all kinds of trouble. There are a captured princess and some very scary giants. The giants are pretty disgusting and funny in a weird way.

Instead of Jack being a boy, he is now a poor young man who lives on a farm. It falls to him to help rescue the princess.

The human villains are great, but it is the giants who are the real stars of this movie. Jack and the princess are very sweet and believable.

Little kids may find this PG13 film too frightening. Fantasy lovers in particular will enjoy it.
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8/10
enjoyable 2 hours
TheMediumC1 November 2013
I watched this movie in the comfy - surrounding of my home, 3D. I was really sleepy when we began watching but after a few minutes in, I was OK. Watched it through the end with a smile. And then I opened its IMDb page and saw the 6,3! Come on people! 6,3?! This is a very good movie in its own way and for this genre. It takes you in, it is consistent with its storyline, funny and screenplay is awesome. For the bad reviews I must say, what did you expect? Saving Private Ryan?

There are many good things about this movie. The costumes were a 10. The writing was felt very real for such an imaginary film. The only bad thing about this movie was the lead character maybe, it wasn't as well developed as it should; but so what; It's not the "Phone Booth" either. So, watch it and have enjoyable 2 hours than be thankful eh?
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10/10
I made a mistake
bcatdclub6 June 2013
Yupp you read that right(I Made A Mistake). When this movie was at the theater's I had a chance to see it. However there was a film in which I have waited to see for a long time. I will not mention the other movies name but that movie was a let down. I finally saw Jack The Giant Slayer in my living room and wish I could have given my money to the ones that made such a great movie.

We all know the story and this retelling adds clever pieces to the tale. I really enjoyed the fantasy style imagery. The story was accompanied by a cute love story too.The actors all did a good job and though the CG was sometimes not the right color it all blended well and came together with the great production. I wish I never skipped this one at the theater for real!
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Jack and the Beanstalk modern classic
liondog9626 March 2014
I can't think of a better story for modern times to bring back one of my favorite childhood stories to television. This film is phenomenal. I can't get over the quality and realism the director crafted into this masterpiece. The story is so unique; yet sticking to the original classic. Some scenes had me hiding under my sheets. Sometimes made me say, "ewwwww!" But nothing too far overboard. Plenty of giants, plenty of action and more---- it just gets better as it goes. I lost track of how many times I've watched it. Now, at 43 I feel like I did when I was 7. That should confirm that this movie is sensational. ...to the creators of this film...Thank you!
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7/10
Giants actually very scary
SnoopyStyle7 January 2014
Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a farm boy who is tasked to sell the horse by his uncle. Instead, he trusts a monk to exchange for magic beans. The monk tried to smuggle the beans from the evil Roderick (Stanley Tucci). With the beans, Roderick hoped to get to the land of the giants. With the magical crown already in hand, he hoped to rule the giants and the world.

Stanley Tucci isn't necessarily the best choice for the villain, and Ewen Bremner is too over the top as the weasel henchman. Nicholas Hoult is a good actor for the lead. Eleanor Tomlinson is just as good as the plucky princess. Ewan McGregor doesn't quite fit as the king's best knight.

The giants are what this movie is about, and are quite grotesque man eaters. That's the whole appeal of this movie. It's a disturbing sight to behold. Not actually seeing them bite people's heads off is interestingly more disturbing. The story could have gotten to the giants a bit sooner. Facing the giants is the best part of the movie especially if they're going to eat you. The battle is compelling but I need more people eating.
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7/10
"I may not be the hero of this story, but at least I can see how it ends"
doug_park200112 August 2013
JACK the GIANT SLAYER is a nice flight of the imagination, exercise in fairly mindless (though not stupid)entertainment. The film has a Disney-like flavor, and though it makes only a half-hearted attempt to convey the medieval setting, the cinematography is very fine. Good performances by Hoult, Tomlinson, and McGregor.

The story may be missing a piece or two, and the modern day ending is a bit tacked-on. There's an interesting mythos here, but its underdevelopment is a little dissatisfying. Nevertheless, it's clear from the beginning that this is not a film to take too seriously: Simply fun to watch for children of all ages.
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7/10
Good family movie
rsmcat21 July 2013
Watched this movie on DVD and loved it. Its the type of movie the whole family will sit down and enjoy from begging to end. No nudity, no sex, no bad language etc. The whole movie makes sense. Its all well connected. The acting is not great. Could have been better, but that doesn't take the fun away at all. The directing is great. Doesn't leave holes in the script and makes you keep your eyes on the screen every second. The narrative is smooth and linear. No fill in the gaps there. To be honest, liked it better them the new Man of Steel (which hides its lack of narrative behind lots of CGI). Almost forgot to mention the special effects. They are great. I feel sorry for the "critics" that wrote bad reviews. They are simply unable to have fun with a well told fairy tail. They buy into the Hollywood hype of 20 million dollar actors, senseless action, lots of CGI... This movie is simple, not pretentious, fun, well directed and brings a lot of magic into the big screen.
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7/10
Surprisingly enjoyable
Kane203 March 2013
As James Berardinelli points out in his review of this film, Hollywood currently seems to be going through a trend of fairytale/folklore re-imaginations. Unlike what Disney does in their re-imaginations of such stories, these are tending to be darker and more mature, with more adult elements. A couple of these are Alice In Wonderland and Snow White and the Huntsman. I haven't seen the former, but I have seen the latter, and to be honest I wasn't overwhelmed. Now, Hollywood decides it's time for such an adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk, and along comes director Bryan Singer, who helms Jack the Giant Slayer, which I found to be somewhat enjoyable, and a worthy addition to the current trend.

Nicholas Hoult plays the title character, Jack, a farmboy who has grown up hearing about a legendary tale about giants living in a place between the earth and heaven. Jack soon comes into possession of some magic beans, and soon inadvertently grows a beanstalk that sprouts out from under his house up into the sky, all the way up to the giants' world (carrying the house up with it). Princess Isabelle happens to be in Jack's house when this occurs, and she is caught up in the gigantic sprouting vines and carried up to the giant world (talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time).

Jack climbs up the beanstalk along with the princess's protectors and her fiancé, Roderick, to search for her. However, Roderick has with him a legendary magical crown with the power to exercise control over the giants, and secretly plans to use it to assemble the giants and take over the human world below. Jack, meanwhile, searches for, and eventually falls in love with, the princess.

I was expecting this film to be dorky, and yes, it is a bit so. However, it was actually not as stupid as I thought it would be. In fact, it does have some fairly smart elements. The story follows a fairly simple, straightforward, and predictable trajectory, and it had the potential to expand and be a lot more, and some of the plotting could have been better, but it is entertaining. It even has some good comical moments here and there. The CGI and effects are pretty good. Everything is very well designed and feels alive. The setting is portrayed excellently, especially the giant world. The giants are truly menacing, and, well, if any of these giants existed in real life, I certainly wouldn't want to get near them. The action sequences are good too, although some scenes may be a bit too intense and violent for little children. But what I liked most of all, in terms of the CGI and effects, was the beanstalk.

As with a number of films these days, some of the action and CGI sequences tend to be a little too long and over the top. This is not much of a problem, although they could have cut some of it. The characterization is relatively simple, and character development is a bit lacking, but even so, I liked and cared about the characters. Jack is a good protagonist, and Nicholas Hoult portrays him pretty well. Isabelle is an enjoyable love interest and damsel in distress. And all the other characters, while again, a bit underdeveloped, are all enjoyable in their roles. I even found Ewan McGregor's character likable. And overall, the film does offer a good sense of adventure.

A little while back, I watched Snow White and the Huntsman, and overall I found the film to be so-so. However, in Jack the Giant Slayer, I did find the beginning (up until the beanstalk sprouted and the story really began) to be a bit slow, but after that, I got somewhat interested in the story, world, and characters, and stayed that way for the rest of the movie. Although, as some reviewers have pointed out, only male giants are seen in the film. Where are the females (if any)? If not, how do the giants reproduce? They are not immortal, as some of them die in the film. But still, this does not spoil the film in any way. Again, it is not a great movie; it's most certainly not Oscar material or anything like that. And it's not even trying to be. It's a competent, unpretentious film, neither pretending nor trying to be more than what it is; a fun, decent, fast-paced action/adventure fantasy flick, and a worthy retelling of the old Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale. Don't go see it expecting an incredibly complex and thought provoking film; just sit back and enjoy the show.

One of the main reasons I went to see this film (among others) was because Bryan Singer directed it. I enjoyed the first two X-Men movies and Superman Returns (yes, I liked it), and so I was curious about this film. As it turns out, Bryan Singer proves that he is still a competent film director.

My Rating: *** (out of ****)
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10/10
Prometheus and the beans
stephenrtod14 March 2013
The last time I read a story to my son was probably 37 years ago, and I miss that experience. "Jack, the Giant Killer" is a movie that families will love although the giants are probably too scary for very young children. I will leave that decision up to parents for themselves.

I was delighted by the interplay between heroes and would-be heroes who step forward to challenge the gargantuan fury and Behemothian, misanthropic voracity of a tribe of giants who dwell at the top of the beanstalk. Jack is a hero who restores my faith in a Hollywood that can make a great movie without treating me like someone who is suffering from attention-deficit-syndrome.

Nicholas Hoult, who portrays Jack, displays the handsome eyes of a medieval falconer, an open ingenuous face, without the slightest trace of guile or trickery, a face that women and buddies and kings can trust.

Since he is a commoner, Jack must earn the right to be worthy of the fair damsel in distress by facing one terrifying personal fear and seemingly unbeatable monsters. Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Princess Isabelle, is a beautiful young woman with a healthy girl-next-door quality and a self-reliant core that feminists might applaud. No haughty, insouciant member of royalty, she quickly teams up with Jack as his partner in the giant-stalking business, something new and terrifying for both of them.

Magic beans are the device which, in the very beginning, caused all the trouble. In ancient Greek mythology, Prometheus was punished for eternity for bringing fire to man; and, traditionally, that tale has been resurrected repeatedly any time mankind invents something like atomic energy, and, instead of powering the world to help people, emphasizes its destructive potential. Prometheus was punished for his prise, his "hubris," that little Miss or Mr. can't-be-wrong impulse that historically has caused so much havoc whereby one believes s(he) can defy God or, worse, that one is God. This subtle but durable motif courses through the movie: Just because we are capable of doing something does not necessarily mean that we should impetuously and indiscriminately practice that behavior. "Jack,the Giant-Killer," echoes James Hurst's "The Scarlet Ibis":

Pride is a wonderful, terrible thing, a seed that bears two

vines: life and death.

Erik, an ancient, wise, resourceful, scientific human king, had resolved that issue, long ago, but all it takes to create a new beanstalk, thick as a sequoia, as elongated as a trip to the stratosphere, is one single drop of water.

Bryan Singer, the director, is a master at cutting from one shot where a fairy tale where a beautiful mother is tucking in her young daughter to bed for the night and gently and happily continuing the reading of a favorite fairy tale - to a parallel shot where a father is reading much the same tale to his son and admitting, a bit reluctantly, that, No, he is not actually certain that giants do not truly exist.

CGI makes the giants very scary and truly formidable. The camera never actually shows anybody being devoured, but you know what has happened. Thus, no blood and gore, but a lot of implied violence. In this movie, the blink of terror is swiftly followed by the gentle breath of silliness or wry satirical humor.

Ewan Macgregor, who plays Elmont, the king's most trustworthy noble guardian of Isabelle, the princess, does triple duty as a the witness of a budding romance, partner of Jack in the quest to rescue the princess from giant-land in the clouds, and his job as hero and knight of the realm.

Danger lurks at every turn in many a scene in a story in which betrayal wrestles with loyalty, and the courage to face one's fears leads steadily from one close scrape to another, culminating in a final confrontation between a kingdom of David's and an equal number of scary Goliaths. The slingshot substitute is clever and devastating.

This is a movie I will watch again. I will probably watch the 3-D version just for fun. I always appreciate subtitles because I see and realize and learn much more that way.

Actors of the caliber of Ian McShane, Ewan Macgregor and Stanley Tucci, do much of their physical acting with just a squint, a sly and knowing grin, a warm smile, lift of chin or angle of a sword thrust. They scarcely need a script to tell the story.

Clifton Fadiman, who was my first movie critic, sixty or more years ago, would call "Jack, the Giant Killer," ODTAA (One darn thing after another), but this is one well-made film. The quality of the story-telling makes me yearn for the movies that families used to view together, sans nudity, sans profanity, with stylized violence for sure, but in the vehicle of a swashbuckling, exciting, heroic tale, with interesting character development and a happy ending with an implied caveat: Be very careful where you plant your beans, your love and your trust.
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