“Jack the Giant Slayer” Review: Fee Fie Forget It


By Wesley Emblidge

"Jack the Giant Slayer"
“Jack the Giant Slayer”

I wrote about the trend of big-budget action movie adaptations of fairy tales only a few weeks ago with the deplorable “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” but already there’s another to add to the list, and it’s not much better. Delayed for about a year, “Jack the Giant Slayer” turns the classic (?) Jack and the Beanstalk story into a large-scale fantasy adventure, with a plethora of out of place stars and CG work that just looks flat-out ugly. Jack (the wonderfully charismatic Nicholas Hoult, last seen in “Warm Bodies”) is a farm boy living with his uncle who…ah, screw it. It’s the story from the fairy tale, boy gets magic beans, beans grow giant beanstalk, boy climbs beanstalk, finds giants, fights giants. Of course there are added elements, but not one of them tries to outdo your expectations. Ten minutes in I wrote a quick outline on my notepad of what I expected the rest of the film to be; for the most part it was right. There’s a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) trapped with the giants, and spoiler alert, he saves her. There’s this whole thing about a crown made out of the heart of a giant (???) that gives you power over them all when you wear it (???????), and spoiler alert, that power gets corrupted. What else gets thrown in? The princess has a speech at one point about how she wants to be independant and a free woman or whatever, and that’s the full extent of her ark. Jack has even less of an ark: he gets over a fear of heights when he looks at the princess. Because love, man. There are a number of soldiers that pop up and have no characteristics either, most notably one guy with the most excessive use of hair product you’ll ever see in the middle ages (Ewan McGregor). But let me talk about what may have been the key to this movie succeeding or failing: the giants.

Ewan McGregor with his styled hair, covered in flour and wrapped in dough, about to be baked by a giant. Did I mention this isn't a comedy?
Ewan McGregor with his styled hair, covered in flour and wrapped in dough, about to be baked by a giant. Did I mention this isn’t a comedy?


Good lord.

These things certainly look other-worldly; that’s the best compliment I can give them. Not only do they look terrible, like deformed humans stretched out disproportionately, but the movie even tries to make them actual characters. Well, that’s a bit too complimentary. The movie makes one giant distinguishable from the rest by giving him an extra head and having him lead the others; they on the other hand are all just CG version of characters from Adam Sandler movies. Ha ha, eating boogers! Isn’t that funny!

There’s just too much to even get to. How about the lack of motivation for Stanley Tucci’s villain, besides “I want power!” How about the fact that, for the second movie in a row, Hoult has been stuck with a romanic co-star with whom he has no chemistry with and can’t remotely compete with his charm?

It’s all just really sad, because there’s so much wasted talent here. I mean, the movie is directed by Bryan Singer (“The Usual Suspects,” “X-Men”), who I really like, and can clearly do so much better than this. The cast is pretty great all around, I haven’t even mentioned the likes of Ian McShane or Ewen Bremner, but no one gets to do much in this movie, not even Jack himself.

“Jack the Giant Slayer” probably deserves a lower rating, but as much as I’ve complained about it, it’s mostly just immensely boring and derivative. The tone is all over the place, the effects are mostly terrible, and it’s even topped off with some useless 3D. I mean, good lord, there’s a point where a bunch of giants are introduced as Fee, Fie, Foe and Fum. That’s how far down they scraped the barrel on this one.

1.5/5 Stars