Fee-fi-fo-fum, Jack the Giant Slayer is rather ho-hum! Directed by Bryan Singer, this is a formulaic fantasy film that tries desperately hard to climb the beanstalk to reach the skies of the box-office, but falls somewhat amusingly on its bum.
Although the film features swashbuckling adventure, romance, and humour, it sadly suffers from weak characterisation and lack of originality, leading to a rather predictable narrative. The romance is also quite dull, since the two lead characters seem to have very little chemistry. Thankfully, the visuals are presented in some fine 3D shots. The giants are the most entertaining, and are decently crafted with special effects.
The film is based on the fairy tales ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ and ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, where it meshes the two to create one yarn, with some spice on top. The story features a somewhat naïve eighteen-year-old farmer Jack (Nicholas Hoult), who as we all remember from our bedtime stories, comes home with some magic beans, instead of money.
But while Jack is out in town, he defends the honour of Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) against some thugs. Then one stormy night, Princess Isabelle rides to the farm boy looking for some adventure, where a very contrived attraction develops between the two. This flirtation, however, is thankfully cut short when one of the beans erupts into an enormous beanstalk, carrying Isabelle into the realm of the giants.
Typical of cookie cutter fantasy films, the princess is a high strung young woman, who is tired of socially defined gender roles, and wants to carve out her own path. Unfortunately for the princess, her marriage has already been arranged by her father, King Brahmwell (Ian McShane), with his adviser Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci).
In what isn’t a giant surprise, Lord Roderick is evil and is plotting to manipulate the giants into handing him all the known kingdoms. As the evil character in the film, Roderick comes complete with his lackey, who tries awfully hard to be amusing but doesn’t quite succeed.
Soon a rescue party is formed, which includes the leader of the king’s elite guards. Here, we are introduced to the giants, who are hungry, disgusting, comical, and always in the mood for a good fight. It is just a pity that the giants don’t gobble up all of the film’s very dull human characters.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, March 24th, 2013.
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