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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Jack the Giant Slayer | Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Jack the Giant Slayer | Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy | Review

The movie’s tagline declares, “If you think you know the story, you don’t know Jack.”

Some elements of the children’s fairytale have changed for this big 3D, CGI re-imagined version, but you’ll recognize enough of the story to pique your interest, if only out of curiosity.

Magic beans grow a mega-vine into the clouds where a race of foul, ogre-like giants with a taste for human flesh live together in Gantua, a female-less bachelorhood on a sky plateau full of fields, ponds, sheep flocks, and communal caves.  Earth was their former realm, humans their favorite snack, until inaccessibility and a magic crown (whoever wears it rules the giants) have cut off the two civilizations for so many years, that the ancient stories have become mythical legends, told as bedtime stories to children.

A series of events leads to a stalk eruption for farm boy Jack (Nicholas Hoult) a resident of the Kingdom of Cloister, and his surprise visitor Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), pushing her royal highness (and Jack’s own house) up into danger while he remains helplessly on the ground.

King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) sends Jack, along with his shady adviser Roderick (Stanley Tucci), a trusted knight, Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and a dozen more hapless men to brave Gantua and rescue Isabelle.  Most of this latter gang serve to illustrate what happens when you don’t have a speaking role in a perilous story.

Life on Gantua is not pleasant for the relatively tiny humans, but Roderick has a secret that endangers all the king’s men and the caged Isabelle (his fiancée, go figure) even more.  Then the giants find a way to return to earth, and all manner of CGI hell breaks loose.  That Jack–and-Isabelle-as-a-couple thing is a head scratcher, too, what with class differences and that betrothed-to-evil-Roderick issue as obstacles.

You can probably predict the ultimate ending, although there are some twists along the way.  Main badass giant leader Fallon (Bill Nighy) has a vestigial twin on his shoulder (a bit of an homage to 1962’s two headed clay-mation brute from Jack the Giant Killer).
The giants are legion and the crown is new to the game.  There is no magic hen, nor harp, but Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum is a familiar chant – hey, they had to keep something.  Romance blossoms, against all odds and almost without dialogue, between a poor farm boy and a princess.

This is a fairytale, all right.

Director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men) and a team of writers try to give a wide audience what they think it wants, with mixed results.  Some of the sight gags deliver (pigs in a blanket are prepared with real pigs), but battle scenes can become tedious and the lack of chemistry between Hoult and Tomlinson is disappointing.

Ewan McGregor’s Elmont supplies more recognizable heroic qualities than our titular one possesses and is inserted into the story to shore up Jack’s wide-eyed awkwardness.  Stanley Tucci provides a human villain detour to further thicken the stuffed plot.

Tweens and teens will be entertained by the visuals, but adults may find the story lackluster with a heavy reliance on tricks (to the detriment of the tale).

Perhaps not knowing Jack is not such a bad thing after all.

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