FlixChatter Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

JackGiantSlayerPoster

I’ve actually never seen any Jack and the Beanstalk movie before, but of course I’m familiar with this bedtime story. I was curious enough about this one given that it’s directed by Bryan Singer.

It starts unpredictably enough, with Jack’s father reading him a bedtime story and of course Jack always believed it’s not just a myth. Fast forward to a decade or so later and Jack’s now living with his farmer uncle. After his father’s death and on the way of selling his horse to make ends meet, he inadvertently comes into possession of the magic beans that has the power to open the gateway between human race and giants. “No matter what you do, makes sure you don’t get these wet,” said the man who gave Jack those beans. Well, that’s exactly what happen when one of them fell underneath Jack’s house and rain poured heavily one fateful night. That one small bean ends up growing into a giant beanstalk that shoot up and up to the sky… and soon, all hell break loose.

You can pretty much guess what’s going to happen next. In fact, this movie has zero intrigue as it’s as if you’ve seen this story played out in your head. Now, there are a lot of fairy tale movies where you know the story by heart but yet the fresh adaptations still manage to surprise and entertain you (Tangled is one that comes to mind, which is based on the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel). Alas, this film is NOT one of them.

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Neither the adventure nor the romance is the stuff of legend as it were, in fact, if you’re older than say seven or eight, you’ll likely be bored watching this movie. The British pair Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson as Princess Isabelle barely has any chemistry despite their best effort, but then again they never stood a chance when their dialog is so uninspired. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised this was written by Christopher McQuarrie who gave us the abysmal The Tourist!!

This film has all the elements money can buy, what with the computer-generated giants and impressive effects of the beanstalk forming all the way up to the sky, but clearly money doesn’t buy great scripts. I mean it SHOULD, but for some reason, studios seem intent on squandering their money on CGI and elaborate set pieces instead of a story and characters worth caring for.

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It’s a big waste of talents too. I mean, I think 23-year-old Hoult is a pretty decent actor and has enough leading man charisma, but for some reason he’s just not all that interesting to watch here. Tomlinson looked like she’s about to cry at every moment it’s irritating, I don’t really know if that’s the director’s fault or that’s just her acting style.

The supporting cast is an even bigger waste! Ian McShane, Stanley Tucci, and Ewan McGregor are so grossly underutilized here it’s criminal! Even McShane seems bored and uncomfortable under that gold full plate armor and the only funny part involving Tucci you’ve already seen it in the trailer. The CGI giants look realistic enough, which I’m sure that’s where most of the gigantic budget cost went to, but despite their size they have no personality whatsoever other than the stereotypical gross, uncivilized behavior. They remind me of the goblins in The Hobbit, only much less amusing. The 3D is just fine, not distracting, but it doesn’t add much either. Once again it’s just another studio gimmick to extract more money when a regular format would do just fine.

Sounds like box office forecast already predicted that this movie would NOT slay the box office (it only grossed a measly $7 mil on Friday). That’s got to be a major blow for the studio, especially since this movie was supposed to open last June 2012!

Final Thoughts: I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I’d think Bryan Singer could’ve delivered a much more compelling and entertaining movie. After all, this is the director who brought us the excellent X-Men franchise before all the superhero movies came along. He’s proven that a comic book movie could be more than just fluff, you’d think he could do the same with a fairy tale story.

Unfortunately, this film is such a giant waste of $190+ mil to me. Overused plot lines, cliched characters and dialog, and every joke and line seems to have been recycled from things we’ve seen before. Kids might enjoy the CGI wonders… but adults will realize it’s a soulless piece of cinema.


2 out of 5 reels


Has anyone seen this one? Do share your thoughts of this film.

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54 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

  1. Yeah, looks as though they might have a bomb on their hands. Not good news for Singer.

    You’re right on all counts, Ruth, especially about this having little to offer people over 8 years old.

    Oh, well… I guess Im not sold on Hoult yet. There’s that.

    • Well I think it’s too bad as it could’ve been told so much better. It’s mind-boggling how much studios spend on movies these days. I’m curious if kids even dig this one if the box office take is poor, there were a lot of kids when I saw this but it was during a screening. I like Hoult in About A Boy and he was pretty good in First Class, but apart from that I guess his star power is still questionable.

  2. I never was going to rush out to see this but yeah…this review has definitely put all doubts on that score to rest! Although I am keen for some more Ewan McGregor in my life….

    • Well, it’d still be worth a rent for McGregor I’d say, he’s still fun to watch though I think The Impossible is the one that show his acting chops. Here he was almost being chopped by the giant, ahah, sorry that was a lame joke :D

  3. This looked bad from the trailers alone, I’m sorry to say. Let’s hope Singer rebounds with ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’. While I enjoyed ‘Valkyrie’, I’m still a little sore with Bryan for letting Brett Ratner ruin the franchise with ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ and bringing ‘Superman Returns’ forth (see what last year’s ‘Ted’ had to say about that one). Thanks, Ruth.

    • You’re right Michael. I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to see it (it was a free screening). I do have hopes of Days of Future Past because that’s the franchise he helmed originally and with great results. Yeah, I wish Ratner hadn’t directed the 3rd one, though because I love the cast and the X-Men universe, I still enjoyed parts of it.

  4. That’s disappointing, I’m a fan of fairy tale adaptations and was hoping this would be a decent one. Guess I’ll just have to wait for Maleficent, hopefully that one will be a good one.

    • I like fairy tale adaptations too, I mean I grew up watching Disney flicks! Oh yeah, Maleficent should be interesting, Jolie is interesting casting, hope that one delivers!

    • Which part did the F bomb show up T? I completely missed that. Surely that’s out of place. I think you gave this 1.5/5 right, I think that’s probably more deserving.

  5. Wow how far McQuarrie has fallen. All the way from The Usual Suspects to this. I mean The Usual Suspects came at in #35 in the WGA’s 101 Greatest Screenplays of all time. And that’s rarified air let me tell you. Sadly the more Singer directs the less he impresses me. I can’t put him in the same category as his contemporaries like O. Russell, Aronofsky, Soderbergh, Fincher, etc.

    Actually the only fairy tale movies that really impressed me in the last 20 years (haven’t seen Tangled, Ella Enchanted, Ever After, Enchanted) were Pan’s Labyrinth and the use of The Pied Piper of Hamelin in The Sweet Hereafter. Hansel & Gretel, Red Riding Hood, The Snow White movies, Alice in Wonderland… in 3D!, Blah. I think I’ll just watch The Princess Bride again.

    Vizzini: “You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha… [falls over dead]” The exchange of dialogue between the daft Wallace Shawn.and the debonair Cary Elwes is just priceless.

    • Oh my, Quarrie wrote The Usual Suspects?? Well then yeah, he’s come a long way down since then. You actually liked Hansel & Gretel Dave? The new one in 3D??

      Oh yeah, Princess Bride is a gem indeed, been a while since I saw time. Time for a rewatch soon I think. I always remember Mandy Patinkin the most with his famous line there.

      • No, that movie was in the list of failed attempts to bring fairy tales to the big screen. There’s a period after The Sweet Hereafter. I hadn’t realized how many there were in the recent years. The trailer looked like Hansel looked like Van Helsing meets Sucker Punch. Yikes. Other than the impressive looking Avatar 3D hasn’t done a thing for me.

        Yeah Mandy’s line is probably the most iconic for sure. Love him in TV’s Homeland. William Goldman… now that was a screenwriter. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, Marathon Man, Misery and of course The Princess Bride.

  6. Thankfully we still have Disney who seem to be the only people who can STILL take a fairytale story and do a little something different with it – a good point you make. With The Usual Suspects as one of my all time best films i still wonder how Singer and McQuarrie couldn’t make something of this, I get the sense that the power of the studio has dictated too much. Personally i still believe in Singer and I think the next X men with reaffirm that as he will be returning to the franchise and a world he understands that gave him two of his best entries.

    • Hi Kevin, yeah I think Disney’s still got it in terms of fairy tales. I was quite worried when Tangled was released but I was pleasantly surprised. I like The Usual Suspects, X-Men and also Apt Pupil, that’s why I expected more from Singer. I still have high hopes on Days of Future Past though.

  7. It is somewhat easy to predict this film was gonna be a disaster based on the trailer alone. It seemed to me like a CGI extravaganza with little to offer in terms of plot, characterization or originality.
    Im actually not a fan of the X-Men films. I mean, they are from being terrible, but I was a big fan of the comic and 1990s cartoon and it didnt do all that much for me.
    Singer might have a GIANT problem in his hands. It looks like it’ll be a flop

    • CGI extravaganza can’t make up for a decent plot. I do love X-Men and though the first movie had some terrible dialog, the concept and acting were very good. Thus I still have high hopes for the First Class sequel, certainly it can’t be worse than this one.

  8. I completely agree with your assessment. I gave it 2/5 as well. I was bored bored bored. Credit the “inspired” dialogue. Ugh! What a waste of a great cast and a lot of money. $195 million dollars to be exact. Great review!

    • Hi Mark. Yeah, it was quite boring. I looked at my watch a few times and the dialog between the young couple made me cringe it’s sooo cliched!

  9. I still haven’t seen it yet, got my free passes. After reading all of the bad reviews, including yours here, I’m not sure I want to waste my time, even if it’s free. Singer hasn’t done anything good since X-Men 2, Valkerie and Superman Returns were a snore fest to me. Hopefully he can redeem himself with the new X-Men film.

    • That’s perhaps wise, Ted. I think kids might enjoy it though, so maybe give those screening tix to your niece/nephew?? Oh I forgot he did Valkyrie. I’m not interested in that one though I thought Tom Cruise looked like the real person.

    • Oh I’m actually not that worried about the First Class sequel as Singer did a splendid job with the first one. Plus I love the original and it’s got an excellent cast.

  10. For some reason I thought this was an animated movie until I read the reviews. Singer has mostly disappointed me as of late so I’ll be skipping this. Nice review.

    • Ahah, y’know it might actually do well as an animated movie. I think it’d still be worth renting, especially if you have some kiddies.

  11. Good God! They are making movies about magic beans now? That’s ridiculous. And what are McShane, Tucci and McGregor doing there? I guess they bought new houses and need to pay the bills :)

    • Ahah, well Hollywood’s creativity well has run dry long ago, haven’t you noticed? :( Yep, I think that’s exactly the reason they signed up for this, what else could there be??

  12. I was on the fence with this, but I’ll probably skip it. It’s a shame that studios continue to invest in CGI instead of stories. Oh well, at least a sequel isn’t likely. ;)

    • I don’t think you’ll be missing much Josh. Yeah, I don’t think the story lends naturally to a sequel anyway, though that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from doing so, ahah.

  13. I like Hoult well enough and was also intrigued by him since seeing About a Boy. But I have no interest in this. I think Hoult is capable of more, so it’s sad to see him getting involved in crap. Even Warm Bodies looked too stupid for me to try.

    But yeah, I have no expectations for this one. I figure there is nothing of any real substance here. Everything I’ve seen says at best it might just be pretty to look at.

    • I like him in About A Boy too but he was so young in that one, I’ve only seen him as an adult in X-Men: First Class and he was ok. Not interested in Warm Bodies. This one is pretty to look at but that’s certainly not enough.

  14. Pingback: Jack the Giant Slayer Review: How Not to Waste $200 million | Rorschach Reviews

  15. I didn’t really pay attention to how much this movie cost so I was really surprised when everyone were saying it was a big box office disaster after making $28 million this past weekend. Then I learned that it cost $200 million!!! Holy Martha!! How do studio greenlight that kind of budget for a movie like this with no star power and no clear audience (ie too violent for the kids and nothing for grown ups)

    • Ahah yeah, and probably more to market it. I read that they spent most of it on SFX, well clearly they didn’t care much about script nor character development. Yeah it’s crazy how studios never learn, it’s very true the demographic for this movie is not clear at all.

  16. Pingback: DVD Court: Jack the Giant Slayer, 21 and Over, Stoker, and More | The Cinematic Katzenjammer

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