Jack the Giant Slayer is the stirring and inspirational story about a poor underprivileged farm boy named Jack who grew up throwing rocks at birds in order to get food for his family. He is then discovered by a baseball scout in time to save the American League from losing another World Series to the team from San Francisco. Actually it’s a retelling of the classic fairy tale about the boy who trades the family cow for some beans, which then…you take it from here.
JTGS is a big screen, big budget, big special effects, but apparently it’s also a small box office film about the classic tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. Unless the income picks up in the weeks ahead, the $190 million production cost and the $80 million spent on promotion may make Warner Bros. wish they had spent $10 million on a modest baseball film instead. Opening weekend only produced $28 million so they have a lot of beanstalk yet to climb.
They are not going to get their money back. The film is mildly entertaining but produces no “film magic.” The special effects are awesome, especially in the final 30 minutes, but beyond that, they are relying on a few surprises and tale twisting, which works, but only to a mild extent.
A young English actor named Nicholas Hoult plays Jack. Nick looks a lot like a young Richard Thomas in the TV series The Waltons. Eleanor Tomlinson, also from across the sea, is the princess. Most of the acting chores are carried out by vets Ewan McGregor as the good knight (although seen in one of the worst wigs in film history), Stanley Tucci as the bad guy, and Ian McShane as the king. The best acting is done by the computer generated “giants” as they get to perform all the humor, gross jokes, and violence.
The storyline follows the traditional fairy tale but branches off into multiple bean stalks, both going up and coming down, and a whole army of giants willing to come down to Earth and stomp the Yorkshire pudding out of the wee little earthlings.
The real star of the film is the special effects. They must have cleaned out several banks, and mortgaged the studio to the hilt, but the onscreen images indicate they got their money’s worth. It appears that the audience response is not meeting studio expectations. While the film is okay as entertainment for kids who will enjoy it, and the 8-to 12-year-old boys who will love all the gross things the giants do, the adults who are looking for a little more bang for their money will find that JTGS provides less than they were expecting. For some fun, look for Warwick Davis in an early scene. WD played one of the original Ewoks (he was only 2’11” at the time) in Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, which was the third or sixth depending on how you count it, as well as several films in the Harry Potter series that called for an actor of diminished height. Always a treat to see on screen, WD has also been in the small screen series called, what else, Life’s Too Short, and will be in an upcoming film, now in preproduction, titled ShortFellas.
Rated 2.75 out of 4.0 reasons that this film will be best if you have never heard of, and know nothing about, Jack and the Beanstalk and don’t know, or have met, anyone named Jack or eaten any beans of any kind. Pray for Warner Bros.