Welcome back to the semi-increasingly irregular feature whereby I review movies that most of you have probably already seen because they came out during the Hoover Administration, and getting out of the house to see a movie involves finding a babysitter which is only slightly more difficult than constructing a life-size replica of the Taj Mahal out of fast food straw paper and French fries.
This week is Jack the Giant Slayer.
Fairy tales briefly became the hot ticket item in Hollywood for a brief period when everyone realized that no one had any original ideas anymore and that all of these characters were in the public domain so producers wouldn’t have to dip into their cocaine and hooker funds to pay licensing fees to anyone to make a movie about Jack and the Beanstalk or Snow White.
But since only one of these movies made anywhere near enough money to get a sequel greenlit…
Hollywood moved on to more superhero movies (“Which is a trend that will never die!”) so sadly, there will be no sequel to this film, which would be sad, because presumably, the giants would have upgraded their weaponry too and I would have laughed at a giant stomping through London wielding an oversized flame thrower. The third movie in the trilogy could have been a crossover with Pacific Rim.
Call me, Hollywood.
Anyway, this movie is not going to win any awards for originality, as it sets up its threat, hero, love interest, and Deus Ex Machina right in the prologue, so you know exactly where you’re going.
So a magic bean later, and Jack is off to the land of giants with Ewan McGregor to rescue the princess and keep the giants from invading the land, while our human bad guy Stanley Tucci is trying to do the opposite, hoping to get an army of giants with which to take over the world. Stanley is controlling them via the aforementioned Deus Ex Machina which is a crown forged from the heart of a giant that compels all of the other giants to do what the man with the crown says, and you’re probably guessing that Jack is going to get his hands on this at some point, because of course he is. He’s the hero.
The tale is engaging and light-hearted enough that you can forgive its lack of originality and just enjoy it as a innocent diversion. There is some violence, but nothing overly graphic.
Characterization consists of the standard archtypes: McGregor is the tough, competent, fair military man, Tucci the mustache twirling villain, Nicholas Hoult the peasant Jack who has a noble heart, and random fantasy princess #367 who wants to be free and marry for love.
The giants also get short shrift, and there’s no real motivation to their desire to come down to our world other than that they think we’re tasty and no real explanation of why they consider their world (which looks pretty lush and verdant) as a prison instead of their home.
All in all, it’s a decent family movie that won’t really challenge or offend you, but is charming enough to make you like it despite its flaws.