By: Holley Sinn
The trend of turning children's stories into comic book style, adults-only films continues with the March release of "Jack the Giant Slayer", Bryan Singer's 3D interpretation of a farm boy's battle against an other-wordly giant. Singer's version expands the story into a war between a legendary giant race and the English city of Cloister where a power-hungry lord unlocks a veritable Pandora's box by way of a curious but brave young man. It's a clever story...and the film is chock full of stars...but once again, technology gets in the way of a potentially unique and interesting film - a cinematic tragedy that has been happening all too often since 3D became the normal standard for any sort of action movie. So sorry, Stanley Tucci. But, don't worry - you're still my fave.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" stars Nicholas Hoult as Jack, a farm boy fascinated by the legendary story of his kingdom's invasion by a giant race. The story suggests that monks once delved into dark magic in an effort to prove the existence of God, but the magical beanstalk yielded by their efforts provides a portal for man-eating giants to find their way to Earth. The kingdom's benevolent leader orders the monks to create a magical crown that will allow him to govern the hearts of the giants, however hundreds of years later, Lord Roderick, played by Stanley Tucci, unearths the crown for a more deadly purpose. When Jack accidentally finds himself in possession of a handful of magic beans and in the company of a beautiful princess played by Eleanor Tomlinson, the portal is inadvertently reopened, and Jack and the king's best men have no choice but to climb up the beanstalk.
Princess Isabelle is captured by the giants when she finds herself at the top of the beanstalk by herself. The quest to rescue her yields the loss of many men and a succession of quick power shifts that eventually find the giants back in the city of Cloister. Head guard Sir Elmont, played by Ewan McGregor, leads the defensive battle against the giants, and it becomes clear that only a pure heart, free of greed and ambition can truly defeat the larger-than-life foe.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" is entertaining enough, but the giants have a marked CG quality that will keep audiences from becoming truly invested in the story. While both Tucci and McGregor elevate the content considerably, this film's set-up and pay-off don't really match up. The storyline surrounding Princess Isabelle suggests that the young woman is seeking to prove her worth without the partnership of a King, but the film's catharsis takes a mysoginistic turn that is both expected and displeasing.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" is rated PG-13 for violence, some disturbing imagery and some minimal language and it opens all over the bay area in 2 and 3D this Friday.