Jack the Giant Slayer is a visually spectacular adventure that borrows from two classic fairytales, Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer. The result is a formulaic story about a peasant who saves a princess from giants that live in the clouds, and a king who doesn’t mind his daughter’s wishes. It’s true that Jack the Giant Slayer is a film that follows the classic fairytale formula closely, but in this case that actually works to the film’s advantage.
Director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) remembers why kids like fairytales: because they’re fantastical, a little bit ridiculous, and a whole lot of fun. In the end things always turn out happily ever after, and there’s really no reason not to meet that expectation. Jack the Giant Slayer is an escapist film for the whole family and, while it definitely won’t speak to you on an intellectual level, you’ll enjoy the ride—if you’ll allow yourself to be a kid again.
You know the basics of this story already: Jack (Nicholas Hoult) trades his family horse for magic beans that, when planted, grow into a beanstalk that reaches the heavens. In this tale there’s a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) who wants true love and a villain (Stanley Tucci) who has a magic crown that can enslave all giants, but these additions serve only to solidify Jack the Giant Slayer as a completely original reimagining
There’s a lot of people-eating and some epic battles, but the tone remains consistently fun, even when things seem dire for the kingdom of Cloister Albion. For a movie that is loaded with giants made almost entirely with CGI, somehow the effects never seem to get in the story’s way, which is more than can be said for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Bryan Singer is a filmmaker of immense talent, and he’s able to create visually impressive images without the CGI overstaying its welcome. Partially this is due to the fact that all the computer effects look so damn good. Never once was my brain taken out of the adventure by a goofy-looking giant beanstalk, or a huge foot that looked ridiculous as it squished humans into jelly. Everything from the faces of the giants to the burning trees lobbed over a castle wall are absolutely fantastic to watch.
I admit that the visual effects and fun are the only reason I’m sold on Jack the Giant Slayer, but sometimes all you need is an escape from reality. This movie is everything that films like Snow White and the Huntsman and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters should have been—a simple fairytale update with a high budget, all done for a generation of kids who need more than just rhymes and their imagination to feel wowed.