I keep waiting for Hollywood to finally give it a rest with modernization of classic fairytales, but I think with Jack the Giant Killer now posed to become this year’s John Carter in terms of catastrophic Box Office Failure we just might see that happen. Honestly, with the failings of movies like The Brothers Grimm and Mirror Mirror I thought this day would have come a long time ago, but perhaps it’s appropriate that it ended up being a movie about Giants to demonstrate the old phrase; The bigger they are, the harder they fall. I’d like to make a note that I really did want to like this movie, and between the assured direction of X-Men alum Brian Singer and a star studded supporting cast there were a lot of reasons that I should have. To my dismay, the film makes little to no use of every single thing it has going for it and winds up as one of the silliest movies I’ve seen in years. Too juvenile for most adults and too gruesome for most children, Jack the Giant Killer is one of the biggest wastes of an enormous budget that I’ve ever seen.
The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when Jack, a young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of a princess, opens a gateway between the two worlds.
One of the few things I did like about Jack the Giant Killer was Jack himself, aka Warm Bodies‘ Nicholas Hoult. He’s got a sort of pluckiness about him that made me completely forget that he used to be “that kid from About a Boy“. Seeing as this is based on a fairytale, I wasn’t that surprised when his romance with Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) was full of cliches and not exactly inspiring, but it still wasn’t as bad as it could have been. As far as Isabelle herself, I’m afraid that the tomboy princess angle has already been beaten to death by movies like Mirror Mirror, Brave, Tangled, and more; there is hardly a patch of new ground left for Tomlinson to tread.
The real shame of the movie is how poorly it uses its supporting cast. Ewan McGregor’s role in particular feels incredibly silly when you compare it to the other more serious roles he’s taken on recently. Also I can’t believe Lucasfilm doesn’t have a copyright on McGregor saying the words “I have a bad feeling about this” Ian McShane is also tragically underused, though he at least doesn’t have to stoop too far from his usual level of swagger. Even more annoying to me was Ewan Bremner’s character, Wicke, whose over-the-top attempts at comic relief stand as an insult to the actor portraying him (Seriously, is this the closest we’ll ever get to a Trainspotting reunion on screen?).
Worst of all however is how shamefully corny Stanley Tucci’s character is here. Roderick is the kind of silly, foppish, mustache twirling bad guy you’d expect in a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, not the kind of “Epic” adventure Jack the Giant Killer is trying so hard to be. Part of the problem is that I simply like Tucci too much to even be able to see him as a bad guy, but there were still so many ways the effect could have been accomplished besides making him into a live-action cartoon character. As a final note, I will say that I did like the choice of Bill Nighy as the voice of General Fallon, the two headed Giant Leader and head-honcho on the bad-guy scale. Nighy’s voice has just the right amount of growling menace to make the character work (that is until his stunted, mentally challenged second head comes into view and ruins the entire effect). That being said, it is pretty damn impossible to hear him in this movie and not think instantly of Davy Jones a la Pirates of the Carribean.
– I have a huge pet peeve about trying to force too much comedy relief into a movie, especially when that comedy relief is dumbed down with the intention of pleasing children. Of this, Jack the Giant Killer is very much guilty.
– The “There’s someone behind me isn’t there” cliche is used not once, but twice
– Jack and the guy from Gremlins should really learn to not let things touch water (Especially when somebody has just told you not to do exactly that)
– Did it seriously not occur to the people cutting the beanstalk down that it was going to fall on them? Thank god it was exactly the height needed to fall down exactly in front of the castle without crushing it…
– The Costume Design is terrible, and I mean TERRIBLE. It’s impossible to take anyone seriously in that plastic-looking armor, not to mention that Jack’s hoodie looks like it could have come straight from Urban Outfitters.
– Apparently kids can handle seeing a giant beanstalk burst through a giant’s torso, splattering body parts everywhere, but can’t handle hearing a single swear word.
– (This one is just an observation) If it’s a giant beanstock, why aren’t there any beans?
– The ending had me busting a gut with unintended laughter
The Verdict: 3.5/10 – Only If Nothing Else is On
+ The budget is visible in the CGI and the climactic battle is pretty fun to watch
– Horrible writing that dumbs itself down for un-funny comic relief
– A tragic misuse of an amazing supporting cast
– Too violent for most family audiences
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Dan the Man Movie Reviews: 8.0/10
Fast Film Reviews: 2/5
The Focused Filmographer: 1.5/5