Jack the Giant Slayer Review
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Fairy tales aren’t just for bedtime stories and kids’ cartoons anymore. Now, they’re dark adventures, with newer, tougher young heroes and heroines—from Snow White to Red Riding Hood—arming themselves to battle witches and werewolves and other kinds of evil. The latest fairy tale character to get an action-packed update is mild-mannered Jack, who climbs the beanstalk for director Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer.

Fresh from his lovable role in the undead rom-com Warm Bodies, Nicholas Hoult stars as Jack, a day-dreaming farm boy who lives with his stern uncle (Christopher Fairbank). After Jack is sent out to sell their horse and cart, his uncle is furious when the boy returns with just a handful of beans and a promise of gold.

That night, Jack gets a visit from beautiful, adventure-seeking princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who’s run away from home—and from her imminent marriage to a man she doesn’t love. But their conversation is interrupted when one of Jack’s magic beans sprouts into a massive beanstalk that carries Isabelle away.

Jack volunteers to join the rescue mission, but he’s soon faced with an army of man-eating giants—and a human enemy who could be even more dangerous.

The story may be based on the classic fairy tale, but the similarities end with a character named Jack, a beanstalk, and a giant. Instead of climbing the stalk to appease his bad-tempered wife, this charming younger Jack joins the search party of out of love for a beautiful but (of course) headstrong princess. And instead of encountering one wealthy giant and stealing his riches, Jack faces off against a whole kingdom of giants—and one seriously greedy human rival.

Still, the revamped story isn’t the film’s real problem. After all, you just can’t seem to have a fairy tale adventure these days without a rambling story filled with action and romance and a headstrong princess. The problem is that, despite the added action and adventure, it’s often so silly that it’s hard to take any of it seriously. From the very beginning, something about it just feels off—like the animated origins tale, which looks like something from a video game that was made a decade or so ago. And while the kingdom’s countryside—and the magical beanstalk—look appropriately beautiful, the ridiculous giants turn the fantasy into an awkward comedy.

From a distance, the giants may look pretty cool—but, up close, each one of these dim-witted monsters is absurd in his own special way. They’re unnecessarily disgusting (perhaps in an attempt to entertain younger viewers), and they all look like they’re made out of clay. And the worst offender is the commanding general, who, for some reason, has two heads—one of which does nothing but snarl and growl.

In the end, Jack the Giant Slayer is much like its fellow fairy tale updates: it has a few entertaining moments, but it isn’t nearly as charming or as memorable as the original.

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