“Jack the Giant Slayer” is a big-budget Hollywood version of the Jack and the Beanstalk story. It’s kind of like a fairytale on steroids.
I have to give them this much – this movie sure takes their beanstalk seriously.
That stalk blasts out of the basement of poor Jack’s house like a missile. Actually like a dozen missiles. There are so many different shoots buckling up and out of the ground, shoots that twist and turn so fast they end up carrying the house and the princess inside high into the heavens. It’s a massive, macho tree, dwarfing the army of men that tries to scramble up it.
It’s really a very impressive sight – but then it just sits there, with not a lot to do. A lot like this movie.
The beanstalk is basically just a ladder for the humans to clamber up to rescue the princess from the giants’ lair, and for the giants to race down to conquer the puny humans on earth in revenge.
Director Bryan Singer, the man behind the X-Men movies, has turned Jack’s world into a non-stop battlefield, full of medieval trappings. Castles, and moats, and armies of men in full-on suits of armor. They do battle with so many hundreds of individualized CGI giants that it soon feels like the umpteenth Lord of the Rings extravaganza.
“Do these giants have any weaknesses?” shouts one of the army in the midst of battle?
“Not many, no!”
And at some point it just seems pointless. The characters are so wanly drawn, there’s nothing much at stake.
Jack, by the way, is played by Nicholas Hoult, the star of the last month’s zombie comedy, “Warm Bodies.” And for some reason, he has more life as a zombie than he does as a dragonslayer.
In the end, this movie would have benefited from a little less testosterone and a lot more charm.