Carl’s critique Jack the Giant Slayer

By Carl OverholserĀ 

Remaking a fairy tale story for modern audiences is hard work. From awful Twilight-reference cash-ins (Red Riding Hood) to mindlessly fun but kind of misogynous fare (Hansel & Gretel), Hollywood has run the full spectrum of quality when it comes to the genre. Consider Bryan Singer’s new Jack the Giant Slayer to be near the top on that quality chart.

Before I tell you exactly how awesome this movie is (and it is really awesome), I need to point out that this movie stars Nicholas Hoult, who, as far as my experience has gone, has never (X-Men: First Class), ever (Warm Bodies) been in a bad movie or anything where he’s not at least an endearing dork. And Slayer is no exception. Hoult’s Jack not only keeps the story together with his goofy innocence, but it plays so well as a foil with Ewan McGregor’s overblown hero Elmont that it seems like the team-up of some kind of indie comedy. Both actors are at their comedic best and the story is silly enough to not only accommodate that humor but plays it straight at the right moments to at least give the whole movie weight when it needs it. Sure, Stanley Tucci doesn’t seem to be doing anything but selling his slimy, conniving bad guy routine for the 50th time in his career, and Ian McShane seems out of place as an out-of-touch king, but the rest of the cast makes this movie so much fun to watch that you can easily overlook these small blemishes.

As for bad …. the ending. No, I’m not saying the ending is bad for the sake of some silly reference to all good things having to end. Slayer‘s ending might be the most pointless, abrupt and poorly thought-out ending I’ve ever seen. To avoid spoilers, I can’t actually divulge what happens, but I can at least make an obscure analogy: Picture a herd of buffalo, stampeding across a plain, crushing everything in their path. Now, picture a bunch of mice erecting a brick wall 2 feet tall with the purpose of stopping an unstoppable onslaught. Now picture that cockamamie plan actually working. Yeah, that’s how the screenwriters actually sell the ending. And it is so terrible that it nearly derailed all the fun I had for the previous hour and 45 minutes.

Ending aside, Slayer is a great time for all ages. The humor is funny regardless of age, the giants that Jack has to slay are actually cool-looking, the world is well enough realized that it is made believable, and despite the last 15 minutes I was forced to sit through, I still had fun. My recommendation: Go have fun with the movie, but beat the crowd out of the theater by leaving when the buffalo stampede ends. It will save your sanity.

Bryan Singer (Superman Returns) continues to say he’s really, really sorry for leaving the X-Men franchise in Brett Ratner’s hands with Jack the Giant Slayer, a fun, hilariously silly adventure about a teenager and his fascination with seemingly make believe giants. How do I do a synopsis on something like this? How about this: Boy finds magic beans. Boy accidentally gets magic beans wet. Magic beans grow exponentially, taking Boy’s house and romantic interest (Eleanor Tomlinson) with it. Boy embarks on adventure with overly heroic but endearing knight (McGregor) to rescue love interest. Does that work? Go watch the movie.

My score: 8/10. This movie had the guts to put Warrick Davis (Willow) in as a 30-second cameo and nothing else. How awesome is that?

 

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