Jack the Giant Slayer
It’s March; that means we get moderately entertaining films that manage to scrape over the bar of mediocre expectations. No film is more indicative of this transition period than "Jack the Giant Slayer," a lackluster Bryan Singer vehicle that is equal parts ridiculous and fun. It’s not brilliant, and it’s not as exciting as the blockbusters to come in May... but it’s certainly the best we’ve seen so far in 2013.
The film follows pauper Jack (Nicholas Hoult) and Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), both enamored of an old tale told to them in their youth, wherein a bunch of monks threw some magic beans in the ground in an attempt to climb up to God, but instead found a bunch of mangy giants midway between earth and heaven. The giants favor man-flesh, so they descended to earth to wreak havoc until the forging of a golden ring manages to rule them all - oops, it’s actually a crown - and sends them back to their kingdom amongst the fluffy clouds to plot revenge.
They’re not too resourceful, of course; rather than forging a ladder from the considerable resources in their sky kingdom, they wait, brooding, until some idiot steals and soaks the remaining beans, sending Jack’s house (with newfound, rebellious friend Isabelle inside) skyward. King Brahmwell (Ian McShane), missing his daughter, sends Jack up the beanstalk with knightly Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and ne’er-do-well Roderick (Stanley Tucci) to fetch her back.
Of course, the giants have other plans.
Given the inexperience of his two leads, Singer smartly surrounds them with entertaining performances by beloved actors - along with McShane, McGregor and Tucci, Bill Nighy can be seen digital chewing the scenery with aplomb. These tongue-in-cheek performances can’t rescue Hoult and Tomlinson from a general lack of chemistry, nor Christopher McQuarrie’s script from bad dialogue and plot holes of... er, giant scope.
Nevertheless, Singer manages to keep the action moving well-enough; and some comedic bits actually land well. The CGI work is better than the trailers suggest, which is good; but the giants still look awkwardly plastic, which is bad. Moreover, Singer phones in the 3D format. All of which leaves us audience members wondering how this creative team reduced a golden egg to a flat, overcooked mess.