Jack slays giants, not audience

ImageHas the dark nursery rhyme film fully cycled in less than a year?

Jack the Giant Slayer marks the most recent in a string of just three movies that regurgitate fairy tales for an older audience. It follows the familiar Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a farmer who trades livestock for magic beans and climbs their stalks to a land of giants, where he finds his fortune. To beef it up, this film adds in a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), a bureaucrat (Stanley Tucci) and a magic crown that lets its wearer rule the giant race.

This film is way too fast and has a tell-tale assembly-line feel to it that could signal one of two things — either the film was made on a whim to milk a built-in audience (generated by the conceptually similar Snow White and the Huntsman and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters), or it was produced into the ground by bean counters who wanted to turn an adult’s film into a child’s film.

The movie’s flaws support the latter hypothesis. What few character development scenes are there are so brief they don’t even have establishing shots. To compensate, the characters are boring, predictable and utterly devoid of internal conflict. In lieu of actual humor, the audience is expected to laugh when the giants fart. Also, Jack the Giant Slayer was actually written, re-written and shot before its siblings.

I wonder, though, whether it would be as bad without that stale feeling it gets from being the third movie of its type to come out within a year. Sequentially, Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t the best movie in the world, but it was an inspired adaptation. Hansel and Gretel was a B-movie that at least changed it’s source material’s perspective. Jack the Giant Slayer simply falls flat, adding generic sillyness to an already generically silly story. The order of release shows movies growing worse, but the order of their production shows them getting better. Which is it?

Jack the Giant Slayer is nothing to write home about, and hopefully represents director Brian Singer clearing his throat before X-Men: The Days of Future Past. Don’t hold hope, though- his last serviceable film was X2 in 2004, and the only time he was ever truly exceptional was 1995’s The Usual Suspects.

Maleficent, an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty as told by its iconic villain starring Angelina Jolie, is scheduled for release in 2014.

Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and a staff writer for the NT Daily. He sincerely hopes Seth MacFarlane never hosts anything again. For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at reelentropy@gmail.com. At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for. Be sure to come back next week for a review of Oz, the Great and Powerful.

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