So, I was sitting around staring at my walls, trying to come up with an idea for a blog post, so that I could fulfill my "one every two weeks" promise. I pondered some short fiction, an editorial of some variety, and then I said, "To hell with it, I'll review a movie". Naturally, this started off a long internal debate over WHAT movie to see, and in the end, I decided to go and see Jack the Giant Slayer. I didn't do this out of some strong desire to see the movie, but because I had seen Bryan Singer show up on a recent episode of Face-off. So, it was due to that, I found myself in the local theater, pondering whether or not this was a good idea.
So, those who have read my post about my most anticipated films of the year, might notice that this film was not on the list, nor was it one of the runners up. In fact, at the time, I thought there was next to nothing that would result in my going to see this film. Sadly, I had not considered the perils of writer's block. It's always the thing that you least expect.
Jack the Giant Slayer, is an updated take on the classic story "Jack and the Beanstalk" a story which was originally about a horrible boy, who decides that stealing from a giant is a great idea, and then proceeds to steal all of the poor defenseless giant's treasures, before brutally murdering the giant that only wanted to get his stuff back. Through the years, that poor giant has been turned from the victim, into the villain, and this film does no different. Once again the poor giants have been cast as villainous tormentors of humanity, and thus worthy of being destroyed.
The movie itself, is actually not too terribly awful. It is not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it presents the basic plot points of a simple fairy tale. There is the simple farm boy with the heart of gold, the beautiful princess , and some horrific obstacle that must be overcome. There are feats of daring, and damsels to rescue. Honestly, that is one of the things that acts as a detriment to the film as a whole. Everything plays out too by the books. There is almost nothing that you wouldn't expect in your standard Disney movie. I would have liked to see them play with the tropes, offer something up that could still feel familiar while being a fresh take on the old tale.
The visuals are fun, however. A colorful fairy tale kingdom brought to life on the screen with the excessive CGI usage that has become the gold standard in Hollywood. My biggest gripe with the visuals, is that they went the CG route when a decent application of some special effects make up could have provided a much more realistic feeling. But even with the CG, the film manages to toss out the fantastical visuals that a story like this needs.
The worst part of the whole ordeal, is actually the female lead. She is the damsel in distress trope personified. Pretty much completely useless except as a love interest for the lead actor. Even when she has chances to shine, and show that she is more than just a piece of eye candy thrown in, she does little more then scream and get captured. Hell, even when she puts on some armor, and looks like she could do something worth a damn, she ends up doing jack shit (pun intended).
Recomendation: This is a simple enough film, that is easily accessible to the general viewing public. While it is PG-13 it is mostly child-friendly with some moments of peril that might be less than child-friendly. Despite that last part, I think this will play best to families. As long as your kids are in the 10-13 range. Sadly, I don't think it will play very well to the over 20 crowd.
Is it theater-worthy?: Honestly, I'd save your money. The movie offers nothing extraordinary, that demands it be seen on the big screen. Save your cash for something a little more... substantial.
Final thoughts: It's not awful, but it isn't the re-imagining that it could have been. It's a film that just does nothing to break new grounds, and relies instead on the comfortable tropes to guide it along its path.
Frank's Final Score: 6.5 out of 10