There have been lots of movies that have tried to take an old fairy tale or a short story and squeeze a 90-minute feature film out of it. Rarely are they good and fun; usually they're terrible and veer off into side stories that don't make sense and stink of "we created this to fill a missing 20 minutes in the film." Jack the Giant Slayer is no different in the creating something out of nothing category but this time, it's fun, well done and visually stunning.
For the longest time, director Bryan Singer has been on a losing streak. That's the downside to making one of the best films of all time as your first attempt...ask Orson Welles. He started off with The Usual Suspects and then quickly kicked ass with the first two X-Men films but then Superman Returns didn't fly and Valkyrie fell victim to the Tom Cruise curse. I started to consider Singer a formerly good director but Jack the Giant Slayer proves he's still got what it takes to tell a great story with dazzling visuals.
The titular character is played by Nicholas Hoult, who we last saw impressing audiences in Warm Bodies and before that as Beast in X-Men: First Class. Hoult is just as good in this as he is in the rest of his work, but the character is one dimentional and has very little to say or do in the film. The same could be said for Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci, who are great talents but wasted on a script that was written poorly and is just a vehicle to showcase the FX and action. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that but it'll only take a film so far.
The one downside of the film is that it takes 45-50 excruciatingly boring minutes to see a giant and really get the film a pulse. Prior to that, I'd imagine you'd wonder why the hell you shelled out the extra money for the 3D glasses but once Jack ventures to the land of the giants, the 3D hasn't been more worth it in a while. The perspective and scale of Jack compared to the giants is consistent and pretty spectacular. The leader of the giants, by the way, is voiced by the amazing Bill Nighy (Shaun of the Dead, Pirates of the Carribbean 2). His gravely voice is perfect to listen to as a gruesome two-headed giant screaming out orders to the others.
The end of the film is a battle that is nearly as epic as something from Lord of the Rings. It's a great climax to the film, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense how any group of tiny humans could defend themselves against hordes of giants but who cares! It's fun! It's a lot more than the old fairy tale is and is one of the few movies I can remember that is truly fun for the whole family.
Jack the Giant Slayer (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B