'Giant Slayer' gold more in visuals than story
One thing this current run of blockbuster fairytales inspired by Tim Burton's “Alice in Wonderland” has taught us is how very hard it is to be Tim Burton. Multiple versions of “Snow White,” a comic splatter film “Hansel & Gretel” — some have attempted Burton's visual whimsy, all have failed to find his tone.
Bryan (“X-Men”/ “Usual Suspects”) Singer takes his shot with “Jack the Giant Slayer,” a genial, watchable and somewhat-violent version of “Jack and the Beanstalk” that lacks much in the way of magic, romance or wit.
The best two jokes are in the opening credits, with Singer's “Usual Suspects”-inspired production company logo rendered into a police lineup — of giants — and at the final curtain, suggesting the story's connection to modern “Englishmen” whose blood those rhyming giants smell after they've started their “fee, fie, foe” and “fum.”
Notice I said “giants.” As in legions of them. The familiar tale of the farm boy who loses the family horse (in this case) for a bag of magic beans, the towering stalk that reaches into the heavens and a giant's lair, the magic harp, goose that lays golden eggs, etc., has been given a video-game framework here.
The boy (Nicholas Hoult of “Warm Bodies”) is still gullible. He still finds the beans. But there's a spirited princess (Eleanor Tomlinson, who was in “Alice in Wonderland”) who needs rescuing, a power-mad lord high constable (Stanley Tucci) to foil, a soldier (Ewan McGregor) to befriend and all those giants to slay.
It's “The Princess Bride” without the laughs.
A charming prologue has young Jack and young Isabel hearing the rhyming legend of the land of giants from their respective parents.
Ten years later, Jack's injunction to “take responsibility” is ignored when he loses the farm horse to a monk with a mission — to get those magic beans to a safe place. Accidents happen, the stalk grows, taking the princess skyward with it. The king (Ian McShane, in a silly suit of armor) is at a loss. He sends an expedition up the stalk to find her.
That's where Jack meets Elmont, the dashing captain of the guards, given a World War II, “tally ho” fighter pilot's swagger by McGregor. Pity about the haircut.
And that's where Jack runs afoul of the scheming Roderick, played with mildly malevolent glee by Tucci. The moment he flashes that gap between his teeth, older movie fans will see who he's going for, an old-school Terry-Thomas-style “rotter,” somebody the giants can “deal” with.
There are moments of “Shrek”-like playfulness in the carnival set up at the base of the stalk as our heroes and villains climb it. But the vast array of writers (Christopher McQuarrie among them) can't find anything funny for McShane to do or say. And the hilarious Bill Nighy is lost inside an expensively animated two-headed behemoth.
Which is the lot of the film as well. For all Singer's expertise at making the fantastic real, all we're left with here is an expensive-looking bauble — worth eyeing, but not really anything to treasure.
Roger Moore reviews movies for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Review: ‘Brooklyn’ is one of the year’s best
- Review: ‘Creed’ is best Rocky movie since ‘Rocky’
- Review: ‘The Good Dinosaur’ lacks magic of other Pixar films
- Review: ‘Victor Frankenstein’ is a mashed-up mess
- Review: ‘Trumbo’ a breezy, bright tribute to civil liberties
- ‘Hunger Games’ director aims to please fans