Film review: Jack the Giant Slayer

posted at 9:31 am on March 3, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

“How do you know that giants aren’t real?” a young Jack asks his father after he reads him a bedtime fairy tale.  “I don’t,” replies the father — and it’s not long before Jack discovers that everything he needs to know he learned in kindergarten, or at least bedtime stories.  Can the poor farmer boy team up with a headstrong princess to defend the land from the monsters of old, plus a traitor closer at hand?  If you don’t know the answer to this, well, you just don’t know Jack the Giant Slayer.

It’s easy to laugh at the concept, which sounds more like a treatment for a Disney animated adventure for kids than a big-budget action movie for adults.  At times, it gets a little too silly and a bit too precious, especially the headstrong-independent-and-unsurprisingly-capable princess.  However, the cast, direction, and action deliver a rollicking good time for a popcorn movie, making it well worth a look in the theater for an evening of diversion.

The story itself is a rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk, but expanded and shifted to a larger context of a war between men and giants.  Jack’s treasure from the fairy tale makes only a brief cameo appearance in this film, and instead focuses more grimly on the rather disgusting giants and their hatred for mankind. This would make for a grim presentation (pun intended), but is kept lively by humorous banter and charming performances.

In fact, Jack‘s best quality is its cast, a collection of top-drawer talent surrounding two rising stars.  Nicholas Hoult, who recently shone (or perhaps glowed) in Warm Bodies, plays Jack as a naive-yet-determined young man not necessarily looking for adventure, but prepared to handle it when it arrives.  Eleanor Tomlinson (Alice in Wonderland) plays Isabelle, the princess who desperately wants adventure and who maybe gets more than she bargained for.  Both are charming on screen, and demonstrate chemistry together.  They have the good fortune of being surrounded by Ian McShane as the king, Ewan MacGregor as the king’s trusted captain of the guard, Eddie Marsan as his stalwart lieutenant, and Stanley Tucci as Isabelle’s ambitious and ruthless fiance.

If you’re interested in deep thought and philosophical pondering, look elsewhere for entertainment.  If you just want to have fun, Jack the Giant Slayer is a good choice.  Jack the Giant Slayer is rated PG-13 for violence and frightening sequences, but I sat close by a father and his ~10-year-old daughter, and she seemed to have a good time.  I’d be cautious with children who are easily frightened, but if you have a child looking for adventure, this may be a good choice.


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dadgum you’re seeing a lot of movies lately, Ed!

ted c on March 3, 2013 at 9:35 AM

ted c on March 3, 2013 at 9:35 AM

One each week, although I saw two last week while my wife was out of town. I’ll miss the next three weeks while I’m in Rome, though. If I get any free time at all, it won’t be spent watching a movie. ;-)

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Nicholas Hoult, who recently shined (or perhaps glowed) in Warm Bodies,

Whose shoes did he polish?

The correct past tense of “shine” (as in “sunshine”, etc.) is “shone“. Just like the past tense of “hang” as in execution is “hanged“, not “hung“. And the past tense of “plead” (as in “to plead a case” in court) is also spelled “plead”, but pronounced “pled” instead of “pleed“. It definitely isn’t “pleaded”, because there is no such word, no matter how many times news anchors say it.

Other than that, the movie sounds mildly interesting.

cheers

eon

eon on March 3, 2013 at 9:39 AM

My 18 yo daughter went to see it yesterday. She pretty much hated the unnecessary over the top violence (and usually she can tolerate that stuff and even like it…think Orcs in LOTR). She did however say Ewan’s eyes made it worth her time. I guess he’s hot.

TeaTrekkie on March 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM

I think we’re takin’ the yung uns to see it later this evenin.

I’m a lookin fer Jack the Possum Slayer for tha sequel though.

PappyD61 on March 3, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Glad it was enjoyable.
Someone pointed out that March can be an even tougher month for movies than January, since at least January has many Oscar nominees holding over after the holidays.

When are you going to Rome?

22044 on March 3, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Saw it last night with one 9 year old and 2 10 year olds.
Parts were slow moving; I thought the last half was better than
the first. There were some funny moments, however, none of
the actors jelled together and the movie was disjointed.

Dialogue was “off”; didn’t roll smoothly.

The boys said they liked it “sort of”; didn’t hate it.

The giants on the move were hilarious! (I’m not sure they
were supposed to be) I would give it 2 1/2 stars.

Amjean on March 3, 2013 at 9:47 AM

movies….Rome… *sheesh*
Life as a blogger-extradoinaire sure appears to be pretty good!

ted c on March 3, 2013 at 9:49 AM

on Friday night, I tried to have the family watch Oklahoma! from Netflix. We made it 1 hour into it and I had a mutiny on my hands. The singing was just too much.

ted c on March 3, 2013 at 9:50 AM

I was hoping there might be a cameo appearance from another well-known giant…standing on a farm going “Ho ho ho…

JetBoy on March 3, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Meanwhile, over at Yahoo News (where those low info voters go for news)there is this rotation “news” item. I hear a dog whistle for Limited government Conservatives…….

Rove: GOP needs candidates who reflect diversity

PappyD61 on March 3, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Three weeks in Rome? Cool beans! Are you there as a journalist covering the proceedings?

Cindy Munford on March 3, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Three weeks in Rome? Cool beans! Are you there as a journalist covering the proceedings?

Cindy Munford on March 3, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Yes, I’ve been accredited at the Vatican press office. Very exciting! Probably more like two weeks than three, and might be a bit shorter if things move quickly.

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

eon on March 3, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Point taken, and fixed, which you can take as an indication that I’ve pleadedededed guilty.

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:07 AM

I saw the movie on Friday and thought it was pretty good. It is actually a decent film to take the family to see, though a couple of scenes are kind of intense for younger kids. But all in all, it’s a great escapist movie that is a lot of fun.

pilamaye on March 3, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

I can only imagine. What an awesome opportunity. Safe and exciting travels.

ORconservative on March 3, 2013 at 10:16 AM

On topic only in the sense of entertainment.

I got my husband Chris Kyle’s American Sniper for his birthday at the end of February and he loves it. (I can tell he also really enjoys my reading it over his shoulder-those are glances of adoration, not irritation). My only negative comment is regarding the beach ball incident, which detracts slightly from his kill number. Even though I have only fired a gun once, I probably could have gotten 16 kills in that situation. The book is well worth the price-basically that of a movie ticket, and a fast and entertaining read.

talkingpoints on March 3, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Yes, I’ve been accredited at the Vatican press office. Very exciting! Probably more like two weeks than three, and might be a bit shorter if things move quickly.

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Congratulations! Vatican accreditation, I’m sure, isn’t that easy to obtain, especially during this historic event. Safe travels, and keep us posted … literally.

TXUS on March 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM

If you’re interested in deep thought and philosophical pondering, look elsewhere for entertainment. If you just want to have fun, Jack the Giant Slayer is a good choice. Jack the Giant Slayer is rated PG-13 for violence and frightening sequences, but I sat close by a father and his ~10-year-old daughter, and she seemed to have a good time. I’d be cautious with children who are easily frightened, but if you have a child looking for adventure, this may be a good choice.

…sounds like a good fit… FOR ME!
.
.
.

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

…good for you!…be safe!

KOOLAID2 on March 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Sounds like a nice break from seeing Obama’s face,hearing about the doom of sequester,Obamacare,unemployment,GDP,and the ever loving MSM.Think I will go see it today.

docflash on March 3, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I’m a lookin fer Jack the Possum Slayer for tha sequel though.

[PappyD61 on March 3, 2013 at 9:42 AM]

I’ll wait for Jack to get in Jack and the Honey Badger.

Dusty on March 3, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Yes, I’ve been accredited at the Vatican press office. Very exciting! Probably more like two weeks than three, and might be a bit shorter if things move quickly.

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Yeah, that would be pretty cool.

BallisticBob on March 3, 2013 at 10:47 AM

on Friday night, I tried to have the family watch Oklahoma! from Netflix. We made it 1 hour into it and I had a mutiny on my hands. The singing was just too much.

ted c on March 3, 2013 at 9:50 AM

I know what you mean. I went through a Musicals theme recently and watched The Music Man first which was good and raised my expectations. When I got to Oklahoma!, though, my interest was dashed.

Dusty on March 3, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Yes, I’ve been accredited at the Vatican press office. Very exciting! Probably more like two weeks than three, and might be a bit shorter if things move quickly.

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Assuming you can keep your credentials (badges/passes) they’d be great to frame or mount in an album and hand down for your grandkids.

JetBoy on March 3, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Assuming you can keep your credentials (badges/passes) they’d be great to frame or mount in an album and hand down for your grandkids.

JetBoy on March 3, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Good idea!

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 11:06 AM

When I look at the image of Nicolas Hoult I’m reminded of the line by critic John Simon years ago and still strangely true: “how is it that so many young British actors have faces that resemble newborn calves?”

rrpjr on March 3, 2013 at 11:08 AM

I’m a lookin fer Jack the Possum Slayer for tha sequel though.

[PappyD61 on March 3, 2013 at 9:42 AM]

I’ll wait for Jack to get in Jack and the Honey Badger.

Dusty on March 3, 2013 at 10:44 AM

I’m waiting for the prequel. Jack the the Current Large Government in DC Slayer.

msupertas on March 3, 2013 at 11:24 AM

It’s on tap for us to see next weekend. The review was all I needed to confirm the Young Prince and I need to have a movie night!

Mutnodjmet on March 3, 2013 at 11:34 AM

The trailer for this was included with seemingly 15 others I had to sit through the last time I went to the movies. Amazingly enough, it was just one of several upcoming, what? nursery rhyme? films. I realize that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but, I swear, sometimes I would like to get a better understanding of why some movies are ever made.

Knott Buyinit on March 3, 2013 at 11:35 AM

. . . . . I’ll miss the next three weeks while I’m in Rome, though. If I get any free time at all, it won’t be spent watching a movie. ;-)

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 9:38 AM
.

Three weeks in Rome? Cool beans! Are you there as a journalist covering the proceedings?

Cindy Munford on March 3, 2013 at 10:01 AM

.
Yes, I’ve been accredited at the Vatican press office. Very exciting! Probably more like two weeks than three, and might be a bit shorter if things move quickly.

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM

.
Bring on the ‘white smoke’ ! … (we need those movie reviews)

listens2glenn on March 3, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Yes, I’ve been accredited at the Vatican press office. Very exciting! Probably more like two weeks than three, and might be a bit shorter if things move quickly.

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 10:05 AM
.

Assuming you can keep your credentials (badges/passes) they’d be great to frame or mount in an album and hand down for your grandkids.

JetBoy on March 3, 2013 at 10:55 AM

.
Good idea!

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 11:06 AM

.
HELL FREEZES OVER ! . . . . . I agree with JetBoy: )

listens2glenn on March 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM

And the past tense of “plead” (as in “to plead a case” in court) is also spelled “plead”, but pronounced “pled” instead of “pleed“. It definitely isn’t “pleaded”, because there is no such word, no matter how many times news anchors say it.

eon on March 3, 2013 at 9:39 AM

You might want to modify that belief, there.
http://abovethelaw.com/2011/12/grammer-pole-of-the-weak-pleaded-v-pled/#more-120188

Being a pedant only works if you’re right.

Solaratov on March 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Solaratov on March 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Constitutional Law, college, Criminology. If I had written “pleaded” in a paper to indicate past tense of “plead”, the professor would have marked the paper wrong on that count alone.

In a legal brief, or deposition, usage of “pleaded” generally gets you a reprimand from the bench for “improper language”. It also makes the defense very happy, because you’ve just made the prosecution look like a bunch of dummies in front of the jury.

I don’t know what common colloquial usage may be. I only know the usage that is considered correct and acceptable in court documents, where the term is actually used. And there, “pleaded” doesn’t make the cut.

cheers

eon

eon on March 3, 2013 at 12:33 PM

One each week,

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 9:38 AM

That’s still a LOT more than I can afford.

GWB on March 3, 2013 at 12:46 PM

eon on March 3, 2013 at 12:33 PM

via Volokh Conspiracy:

I checked the ALLCASES database in Westlaw (after seeing [the term] listed as equivalent in the dictionaries). And the results were:

(1A) text(“pleaded guilty”) & date(= 2010) — 7664 documents. [UPDATE: te(pleaded % “pleaded guilty” % “well-pleaded”) & date(> 4/1/2010) — 5017 documents; “%” means “and not.”]

(1B) text(“pled guilty”) & date(= 2010) — 8508 documents. [UPDATE: te(pled % “pled guilty” % “well-pled”) & date(> 4/1/2010) — 5573 documents.]

So both [uses] are fully standard, and I see no basis for labeling either “incorrect.”

Solaratov on March 3, 2013 at 1:03 PM

One each week,

Ed Morrissey on March 3, 2013 at 9:38 AM

That’s still a LOT more than I can afford.

GWB on March 3, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Ed’s livin’ large on that big Hot Air expense account.

:-)

Solaratov on March 3, 2013 at 1:05 PM

HELL FREEZES OVER ! . . . . . I agree with JetBoy … : )

listens2glenn on March 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM


Wheee
!

JetBoy on March 3, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Solid review, Ed. Thanks.

John the Libertarian on March 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM

HELL FREEZES OVER ! . . . . . I agree with JetBoy: )

listens2glenn on March 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM

.
Wheee!

JetBoy on March 3, 2013 at 2:13 PM

.
That must be a picture of you; I can only wish to “look that good” (5 foot 9 inches tall, 48-50 inch WAISTLINE)

listens2glenn on March 3, 2013 at 2:28 PM

The story itself is a rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk, but expanded and shifted to a larger context of a war between men and giants.

Ed Morrissey

FALSE.

It’s a rendition of Jack the Giant Killer.

Do some research before posting, thx.

fossten on March 3, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Wonderful review, Ed. I love that you’re writing about a different film each week. We need to understand American mainstream culture before we can make an impact on it, and discussing current movies is a perfect place to start.

I saw “Jack the Giant Slayer” Friday and loved it. It’s a fun fantasy with a consistently conservative subtext. As a bonus, there are lots of recognizable actors in good roles.

I didn’t mind the supposedly “headstrong” princess. She was spirited, yes, but the film didn’t go out of its way to promote her as princess warrior or stubborn rebel. This wasn’t sneaky feminism masquerading in the guise of children escapism (as was Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” for example).

There’ve been a number of recent fairy tale adaptation recently and they’ve had mixed success. The fairly recent “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” was the worst. “H & G”: a combination of horror, splatter, prurience, celebrity values and cheap sensationalism; “JTGS”: an adventure fantasy affirming traditional values like honor, courtesy, valor and a sense of wonder.

The continual CGI in the film wasn’t completely convincing, I admit. Bryan Singer is a gifted director, but he’s no Harryhausen, Spielberg or Jackson. And it would be nice if Bernard Herrmann were still around to do the score as he did for “Mysterious Island,” “Sinbad,” and others of this genre back in the fifties and sixties. But aside from that nitpicking, this film’s basic, unpretentious wisdom and its numerous and surprising marvels were all appealing and much appreciated.

Burke on March 3, 2013 at 7:30 PM

The trailer made me salivate.

Lawyers would be climbing that vine like ants after a dropped candy bar.

Can you imagine the NFL or NBA contracts those dudes could get?

They could buy even bigger homes.

IlikedAUH2O on March 3, 2013 at 10:32 PM

If you’re interested in deep thought and philosophical pondering, look elsewhere for entertainment.

I’ve had enough of Hollywood’s thoughts and philosophies to know I am not interested in anything they have to say. Entertainment is all I ever want from them. Oh, and “deep thoughts,” is not something most Hollywood dumbazzes are capable of.

woodNfish on March 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Luhrman has talked about the musical choices. He said that he found the world of hip-hop (at least the fantasy version as portrayed in videos) to be remarkably similar to the conspicuous consumption of the ’20s. That may be a rationalization, but it’s a pretty good one.

Farmer_Joe on May 13, 2013 at 10:30 AM