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Jack the Giant Slayer: Rock-Headed Charm and CGI Wizardry

Jack the Giant Slayer: Rock-Headed Charm and CGI Wizardry
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The problem with the "Jack and the Beanstalk" story, of course, is that the first thing the protagonist does is trade valuable livestock for a handful of beans that a stranger convinces him are magic. Everything Jack does after that has to be framed with a single question: Well, what did you expect? This is the dumb motherfucker who thought legumes were valuable currency. The new Hollywood retelling of "Jack and the Beanstalk," Jack the Giant Slayer, doesn't do away with that beans-for-cow trade, although in this version, the animal Jack trades away is his family's only horse, which arguably makes his decision even more idiotic and irresponsible. Nicholas Hoult, then, plays a fine Jack: He's dumb as a post but likable enough, not to mention unbelievably pretty.

Pretty, dumb, and likable essentially sets the tone for Jack the Giant Slayer. We get all the standard reinvented-fairy-tale elements, including a brash young princess in search of adventure (Eleanor Tomlinson), an evil sleazebag betrothed to said princess (Stanley Tucci, blandly cartoonish), and an army of evil CGI giants. Ewan McGregor provides a little joyous fizz as an always-prepared, ridiculously valiant knight, and what Ian McShane lacks in presence as the king of the realm, he more than makes up for in a wildly impractical wardrobe including golden armor and immense furry capes.

As far as the recent rash of fairy-tale reimaginings go, Jack the Giant Slayer is much more vibrant than the mirthless Snow White and the Huntsman. There are no surprises, but a few moments—especially the first tense scene that reveals the giant—are notably well-crafted. It's inoffensive and entirely forgettable, but it crams in enough rock-headed charm and SFX wizardry to pass the time, although the lackluster 3-D is not worth the extra expense. recommended

 

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It seems like you should mention somewhere in your story that "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Jack the Giant-Killer" are not actually the same story but were combined for this movie. I guess I think it would be a better idea if the movie was better.
Posted by BeirutWedding on March 8, 2013 at 7:28 AM · Report this
Paul Constant 3
@busstop101: I knew this would come up in comments, but unfortunately space was limited in the paper, so let's get into this now. Jack had the beans in his hand and was trying to talk his way through the deal when the monk rides off with the horse. The filmmakers may have made a bit of an effort to absolve Jack of some of his stupidity, but, if anything, thjs makes it even worse. He still gets conned. By a monk. After the wagon had already been stolen because he left it sitting on the street so he could go watch a play for kids. Not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. (And for that matter, why is the monk giving away the Super Important Thing he came to the kingdom to steal to some guy on the street? The filmmakers' attempt to make Jack not look like a total poltroon only added more holes to the plot.) And I never said he was illiterate, even though the only book he's shown owning is the same book his father read to him as a kid and has probably memorized by now.

@VFXnerd: SFX is generally acceptable as shorthand for special effects. If you're getting into the nitty gritty of it, there's the SFX/VFX distinction, but Stranger style allows for SFX to stand for special effects as a whole.
Posted by Paul Constant http://https://twitter.com/paulconstant on February 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM · Report this
2
I feel like you didn't watch the movie because the whole first paragraph in your article is a mistake. Jack does not sell the horse for beans in this film. As he is explaining to the monk that he'd be a fool to take the offer the monk up and steals the horse. The filmmakers tried to establish he wasn't an every day farm boy as well by showing that he was a reader and therefore at least literate.
I personally enjoyed the film. If you don't like it that's fine, but why give inaccuracies about the main character?
Posted by busstop101 on February 27, 2013 at 2:57 PM · Report this
1
Its VFX, not SFX, SFX means Sound Effects, VFX means Visual effects.
Posted by VFXnerd on February 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM · Report this

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