Film: Jack the Giant Slayer; Actors: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Bill Nighy, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan and Ewen Bremner; Director: Bryan Singer; Rating: *1/2
Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum! This one is no fun!
Grafted from the classic, "Jack and the Beanstalk" children's fantasy, this one is a soul-less fantasy-action-adventure that's neither captivating nor convincing.
It was long, long ago, in the kingdom of Cloister, there lived a disgruntled Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) and a happy-go-lucky orphan named Jack (Nicholas Hoult). Their paths first cross in a market place, where Jack shields the Princess from undesirable elements.
Soon, due to financial constraints, Jack is again at the market to sell his horse. But instead of selling the horse, he is forced to barter his horse with beans by a desperate monk, who needs the horse to escape the King's soldiers.
Unknown to Jack, these beans are the magical giant beanstalk that sprout when they get wet.
Destiny leads Princess Isabelle to Jack's home on a rainy night at which point those magic beans sprouts volcanically skywards, taking along with it, the house and the princess up, up, up into the clouds, toward Gantua, home of a race of giants led by the two-headed Fallon (Bill Nighy).
In the meanwhile, Isabelle's father, King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) is out searching for his daughter. Seeing the giant beanstalk and his daughter's bracelet with Jack near it, he deploys his trusted staff including Elmont (Ewan McGregor), Wicke (Ewan Bremner), and Roderick (Stanley Tucci), who is Isabelle's shifty fiance, to make the skyward journey to rescue the Princess. Jack too joins the motley group, mostly because the script demands it.
What follows is a lame variant on exploring Skull Island, with Elmont as the very, very heroic knight in charge. An evil schemer betrays everybody, uses an ancient relic to control the giants and then gets them to invade the human kingdom below. Before it's all over, the giants have found a way down to Earth and threaten to take over once and for all, and the end is obvious as the title suggest it.
Hoult and Tomlinson are appealing actors who match up well. They are capable of much more than what they have delivered. It is only Tucci as the scheming villain and McGregor as the large-hearted and commanding knight, who bring life to their performance. Bill Nighy as the freaky two-headed leader of the giants, exults some pronounced voice work worth mentioning. But honestly none of the performances are outstanding or have moments to shine. The characters are often left delivering dumb, obsolete dialogues that falls painfully flat.
On the whole, one barely cares about most of the live characters, let alone the computer generated ones. The giants are cartoonish and not at all menacing to look at. Except for the two-headed leader and a few others, the giants didn't have any intimidating characteristics making it difficult to accept as threatening.
Also the film is unnecessarily in 3D as the effects are so inconspicuous. It seems as if the 3D effects were used as an after thought.
Singer remains a competent filmmaker - there are no extraordinarily incoherent scenes and everything cuts together - but there's no spirit here. The film is bookended by an unwanted, laboured culmination and your archetypal, board-setting prologue, which overemphasizes the intertwined fates of Jack and Isabelle. And the plot is mostly an excuse for outsized action set pieces.
As for the production values, Gavin Bocquet's production design is good but the computer generated images used are not up to the mark. Joanna Johnston's costumes could pass off as contemporary clothing. Newton Thomas Sigela's cinematography is bright and vivid.
The script written by quartet, Christopher McQuarrie, Darren Lemke, Dan Studney and Singer himself, seems flawed. It is a shameless mixture of restricted unoriginality, crammed with muffled one-liners and drained dry of emotional investment.
Watch it if you have nothing better to do.