Jack the Giant Slayer
dir Bryan Singer
scr Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, Dan Studney
prd David Dobkin, Ori Marmur, Patrick McCormick, Neal H Moritz, Bryan Singer
with Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner, Ralph Brown, Christopher Fairbank, Simon Lowe, Warwick Davis
release US 1.Mar.13; UK 22.Mar.13
13/UK Warner 1h54
Jack the Giant Slayer
Fee fie foe fum: McGregor, Tomlinson and Hoult

tucci mcshane nighy
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Jack the Giant Slayer Despite some annoying digitally rendered characters, this adventure romp has enough spark to keep us entertained. It feels compromised both by unnecessary 3D and choppy editing to make it more family friendly, but the actors and the relentless action are a lot of fun.

Jack (Hoult) is a hapless farmboy living with his uncle (Fairbank), who's furious that he sold their horse for a bag of "magic" beans. Then an enormous beanstalk springs up, inadvertently carrying Princess Isabelle (Tomlinson) up to the realm of the giants. To rescue her, the King (McShane) sends Jack along with his guards (including McGregor, Marsan and Bremner) and Isabelle's intended, the shifty Roderick (Rucci), up into the clouds. There they meet the angry two-headed giant Fallon (Nighy) and his horde, reawakening a legend that had died off centuries ago.

The film has a rollicking pace, as director Singer injects energy into small scenes as well as epic-sized landscapes, while a booming sound mix and John Ottman's thunderous score make sure we couldn't fall asleep if we wanted to. Most of the imagery is impressive, playing on the vertiginous angles while evoking a fairy tale setting with elaborate sets and costumes. Singer's one misstep was to animate the giants rather than let the actors create them more organically. This leaves them looking like dead-eyed cartoons.

Only Nighy's Fallon has even a hint of personality. Otherwise this kind of feels like a medieval Transformers movie. But the actors are all full of beans. Tucci flounces around delivering Princess Bride levels of irony and sarcasm. McGregor and McShane add feisty edges to their nice-guy characters. And Hoult and Tomlinson make the most of their relatively bland heroes: their romance may be simplistic, but we still root for them.

The climactic battle sequence gets stuck in an overlong draw-bridge assault, but there are genuinely scary and violent bits of action along the way. Singer is forced to cut away from most of the grisliness, which leaves scenes choppy and incomplete. But the film keeps us entertained through sheer force of will, plus some clever character-based subtext. And the witty coda sends us out with a smile on our faces.

cert 12 themes, violence, vulgarity 17.Mar.13

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