After the disappointment that was Hansel and Gretel, one approached Jack the Giant Slayer with a certain degree of trepidation. However, the fear was all misplaced as the movie is full on fun with wall-to-wall action, likeable hero, smarmy villain, pretty princess and super creatures. If the film is lacking anywhere, it would be the humour department — had there been a wise-cracking sidekick in the immortal words from Donkey in Shrek, Jack the Giant Slayer would’ve been just perfect.
Bryan Singer who is now a past master in big budget action movies thanks to X Men, confidently helms this reboot. Jack’s unheroic behaviour in the fairy tale — he goes to a man’s (okay giant’s) house, robs and finally kills the giant — is sorted in the movie. Here the giants are horrid creatures who invade earth and develop a taste for human flesh. The monks (there always seems to be a religious angle) forge a crown out of a giant’s heart. King Eric defeats the giants and sends them back to their land.
Many years later, a farm boy called Jack goes to the market to sell his horse (no not cow) and gets magic beans instead. His uncle (not his mum) is furious. The beans accidentally sprout and the portal to giant land is open. The princess is kidnapped and Jack with Elront, commander of the army and evil Lord Roderick, the advisor to the king go to rescue her.
The film moves briskly, the giants are lovely, lumbering and wickedly delightful and the action is not a relentless assault on your senses. The cast is great. Nicholas Hoult (he was Marcus in About a Boy — time flies!) is charming as Jack. Stanley Tucci doesn’t have to stretch himself too much as the unctuous Roderick while Ewan McGregor looks so nice and dapper as Elmont—sounds almost like Elrond right? Bill Nighy after being a squid-faced pirate and vampire king now plays one head of the two-headed giant leader Fallon.
The treasure and the gold harp have fleeting mentions, which give you the feeling of tapping into a collective subconscious. The bean stalk is quite magnificent — it was always a bother to think how anyone could climb a bean, which is essentially a creeper. There are no giantesses though and animals are all human size and not gigantic. Wonder why.
Calling England Albion is a nod to the British origins of the tale and also brings to mind the poetry of William Blake, who as we all know is responsible for cleansing the doors of perception without substance abuse. Jack the Giant Slayer has restored faith in fairy tales. Once upon a time, there was a Hollywood studio boss…
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy
Director: Bryan Singer
Plot: A millennial look at Jack and the Beanstalk
Bottomline: A cool reboot