FEE FI FO FUM! I SMELL THE BLOOD OF AN ENGLISH-MAN! We all know the classic fairy tale: Jack the poor son of a single mother is forced to sell his best friend, a cow (or in this case a horse) at the market however, as an easily swayed young lad he returns home sans cow (horse) but with some magic beans that hold the power to grow a magical beanstalk. The beanstalk leads all the way to the Land of the Giants where Jack steals the magical harp, the golden egg and a bag of coins before one Giant in particular catches him in the act and begins to follow him back down to the fairy tale Kingdom, where the Giant meets his demise as Jack chops down the beanstalk. Jack the Giant Slayer is not that story.
As Jack the Giant Slayer starts, a series of computer animations guide the audience through “The tale of Erik the Terrible” and his banishment of the Giants who roamed the Earth via the means of beanstalks, a radically different story to that portrayed many times over in pantomime, a medium which is only channeled within Bryan Singer’s depiction of the fairy tale until Jack’s (Nicholas Hoult) ascent up the beanstalk. Unlike the classic tale, Jack travels to the Land of the Giants to save his beloved Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), and is accompanied by the king’s champion, Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and Roderick (Stanley Tucci), the wily fellow betrothed to Isabelle.
The comedy and action sequences that are produced by the climb bring a sorely needed spark to Jack the Giant Slayer, which up until this point is mediocre at best. Arguably, Jack’s humour is its saving grace, as the irritating matter of bad CGI regarding the Giants themselves is easily ignored as the two-headed General Fallon (Bill Nighy) and his crew do create some laughs, capturing an air of silliness that is reminiscent of Dobby the House Elf or the Dwarves from The Hobbit.
Furthermore, Jack The Giant Slayer does incorporate a sense of adventure not only in the ascent, but also during the Giants’ assault on the Kingdom. As Jack fights to save the Kingdom and the girl, the action continually builds to an explosive climax that is surprisingly thrilling and almost redeems the mediocre 100 minutes prior to it. Hoult’s portrayal of Jack is wonderfully true to the fairy tales of old however, audiences will inevitably draw comparisons with the characters he played in Warm Bodies, X-Men: First Class and even About A Boy. Both McGregor and Tucci also fall in to their characters with ease and prove that talent can overcome a somewhat poor script, while Tomlinson comfortably plays the stereotypical Damsel in Distress role.
Jack the Giant Slayer is not an altogether awful film, however, neither is it a spectacle worth seeing more than once. The action scenes are commendable and Jack isn’t without its comic moments, however, it consistently feels as though a crucial part of the film is absent. Jack the Giant Slayer is a valiant effort at rendering an adult version of a well-loved fairytale, but it sadly, just misses the mark.