Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) movie poster

director Bryan Singer
viewed: 03/17/2013 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA, 

2013 isn’t utterly bleak on the movie front, but it’s also quite far from inspiring.  For every Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Pacific Rim (2013), or Elysium (2013) coming soon to a theater near everyone, there are a lot of weekends ahead with a huge spate of new releases, but an almost equal dearth of anything to get excited about.

I like taking my kids to movies.  And I’m willing to take them to almost anything that looks even half-decent.  I enjoy seeing films with them more than just seeing them on my own, so not only do we go see more films that I would not see on my own, but I probably even see more kid-oriented fare in the theaters than perhaps even the more adult stuff that they wouldn’t enjoy or which wouldn’t be appropriate for them.

Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer hasn’t been on any “must” list of mine.  But it’s come at a time when nothing had been coming out for a while and I leaned toward seeing something rather than nothing.  Singer first broke out with The Usual Suspects (1995) which he followed up with his breakthrough in the comic book superhero film with X-Men (2000).  His take on Superman Returns (2006) failed to successfully re-boot that franchise, and while no one is exactly comparing him to M. Night Shyamalan, his early promise belied his career to some extent.

Jack the Giant Slayer is part of this fairy tale modernization that seems to be perhaps working its way through its cycle.  Is it over yet?  So much so that this film just seemed kind of like….why exactly?

When Clara’s friend was eager to join us, we at least had some excitement onboard.

The film stars Nicholas Hoult as Jack, who is almost as pretty as Eleanor Tomlinson who plays Isabelle, the princess in the tale.  It also features the always likable Ewan McGregor as a handsome knight, all fighting against a massive group of massive giants.  And it all conflates the classic stories of Jack the Giant Killer and Jack and the Beanstalk so much so that I can’t hardly think of them as separate stories anyways.

The giants are CGI/motion capture brutes.  They all speak in working class accents and bear various deformaties and physical atrocities from lack of hygiene that tell you about all you need to know about them.  I did find myself wondering if there was some form of classism at play here.

It’s overlong (what film isn’t these days?) but it’s entertaining.  With expectations kind of low, it’s hard to feel too disappointed.  And actually the girls quite enjoyed the film.

My feeling is that this film will swiftly fade from memory, its strengths, its weaknesses, its pleasures, its failings.  And in some ways, that is a worse criticism, I think, than simply being a bad movie.  It’s decent, but unremarkable.

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