Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
March 7, 2013 5 Comments
Jack (Nicholas Hoult, who is off to a fantastic year) is a distractible young man, stuck on the fairy tales his father told him. Coincidentally, Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) was also raised on these tales, making her strain a bit under the restrictions of her position. Fate, naturally would pull them together and show that the legends are real as the beanstalk grows, taking Isabelle with it and leaving Jack to accompany knights Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and Crawe (Eddie Marsan) to save her.
No one is acting outside their bounds here. Hoult is awkward and charming, Tomlinson is peppy and beautiful, McGregor is dashing, Stanley Tucci is conniving, Ian McShane is gravely and commanding. This may all be to type but there’s a reason these actors are successful, we like those types and how they play them. This isn’t to say they phone the performances in, just that the actors exude a comfort in the roles and thus inhabit them effortlessly. I would specifically recognize McShane for a truly classic reaction shot later in the film, makes an absolutely perfect moment without any words.
As concerns go, the initial story set-up involves an animated sequence that looks ripped from a video game of a decade past, almost lovable in how poor it looks. Additionally, in the shadow of films like Brave or Snow White and the Huntsman, Isabelle is a bit too much damsel in distress for modern cinema. She seeks adventure and at times dons the armor, but when it comes down to it, the men will be doing the work and having the ideas to save the day. I’d have liked to see a couple moments where her adventurousness is rewarded a bit more.
For as bad as the opening animation was, the CGI for the bulk of the film is pretty solid. One real victory is in the creation of the giants General Fallon (voiced by Bill Nighy) and Fumm (Ben Daniels), who stand out from simply being stock baddies to having subtler motivations that get through to make you feel a bit of sympathy for these beasts, even as you faithfully cheer for the humans. Ultimately, that is the true sign that the film is one that, while being a piece of pure entertainment, is one crafted lovingly and of pure intent.