Monday, 4 March 2013

Movie Review - Jack the Giant Slayer

His hand is blocking the second head.
   There was a recent resurgence of fairy tale classics being depicted in a more adult setting, not counting animated films. Jack and the Beanstalk is the latest of these adaptations, though its intended target audience is between the younger set and the older crowd.
And there's the second head.
   Jack is forced to be a Giant Slayer when a conspiracy for a crown of power leads him to a dangerous trip in search for a missing princess in a land above the clouds..
It took a day plus to climb the beanstalk.
   Larger than life adventure is the lofty aim here. All the elements are present but they weren't properly utilized. There was romance but not passionate enough. There was violence but the over-the-topness was lowered by the rating. The adventurous trek, with the beanstalk as the setting, was pretty pedestrian. There were deviations from the usual formula concerning the paths of some characters at least. Those were welcomed as the new branches promoted growth.
How did she get that wound?
   Jack, portrayed by Nicholas Hoult, has his character cues. Head up in the clouds, afraid of heights, aspiring above his station. Still, his depiction did not make him stand heads and shoulders over other leads. He had no fire in his eyes, he was too humble. Other than her earlier defiance, the princess Isabelle, portrayed by Eleanor Tomlinson, is relegated as a damsel in distress. Her streak of female independence was buried instead of being made to soar to new heights. It was disappointing that she didn't even contribute in the ending. The pair fell in love but their romance did not have enough spark.
Soldier on the left, disgusting toadie in the middle.
   The head of the guard Elmont, played by Ewan McGregor, was called out not be to be the hero of the tale but he was still more fascinating to watch, even if he was pushed to the side. Roderick the villainous husband-to-be, played by Stanley Tucci was a little more controlled in his dastardly ways. Both their second-in-command displayed more character, the good soldier being crass but decent and the bad lackey being effectively disgusting with his outrageous expressions. They could have stayed on longer.
Usual two heads are better than one joke.
   The giants were good examples of decent CGI, if a little stiff of features for most.  The exception is the second, smaller head of the main giant but they it looks like they overdid it.  Distinctions were made for each person though the naming only singled out one or two. The beanstalk design was pretty decent but did not have much in the way of menace or wonder.  It was just there. The opening intro made it as if the characters were wooden puppets like a child's toy; it's a not fault of the image generation.
This little knife sees a lot of action.
   The changes in the regular Hollywood narrative were quite appreciated. Not all the usual story standards were followed which created pleasant surprises. Still, more intensity for the characters and scenes would have been nice.  The action and the CGI are good entertainment though more could have been done with the material.  But you can decide for yourself as it is already in cinemas since Feb. 28, 2013.

There's something behind me, right?

   SPOILERS!!!  Giants will eat you for breakfast if you look before you've seen the movie, with pictures provided by Warner Bros. BTW.
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Imma gonna bite yer head off!

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   The crown should have gone to the princess. I think it would have been a more romantic scene if Jack got to the crown and tried to give it to the princess. Then, of course, she refuses and says Jack has proven himself as royal as any prince and worthy of her love before handing it back to him.
Do girls taste sweeter than boys?
   The fee fi fo fum, or however they were spelled, were turned into names.  It would have been better appreciated if those giants were used them more. Only one of them stood out. The cook wasn't even on of them, I think.
Point?  What point?
   The golden egg was... an Easter egg, haha. The harp was there too. It was slight reference to the original story but ultimately added nothing to the plot. Could have had the harp serve as a distraction or the egg given to the uncle.
I'm looking down on you.
   The violence was pretty high, but not gory. Those men being eaten or having their heads bitten off were not shown explicitly. The others crushed the vines or thrown to the winds didn't have the their broken bodies on display afterwards. The ones who fell from the beanstalk didn't show blood and guts. Well, it's for the sake of the kids watching.

I'm off to do something heroic now.
    The story deviations that surprised me would be the second in commands. The funny and bloodthirsty toady of the bad guy was humor relief but he was bumped off quite unexpectedly. The good guy got some great lines in but ended up a snack as well. The main bad guy being dispatched NOT by Jack was a big surprise and it wasn't even a huge moment. He was just stabbed. The heroism of the captain was shown a lot but not always acknowledged and he wasn't a rival for the affections of the princess. I don't recall him treating Jack too badly.
Why are rocks floating in the sky?  To make heavy rain?
    The land above had those faces dripping water to make clouds, I suppose.  

   Count the last beans.  I'm pretty sure it was five beans that the giant threw but only four beanstalks sprouted.

We're looking but not finding.
   Really though, Jack should have shown more character. He was rather lukewarm. Same with the princess.  I really wanted to like this movie but, well, there you go. 

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