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Jack the Giant Slayer: Trailer and Reviews

It's a "just good enough diversion," says one critic.

 

Director Bryan Singer offers a new take on an old story: Jack and the Bean Stalk. Only there's much more to this version than trading a cow for a handful of magic beans, then retrieving a harp and a gold egg laying fowl. The focus is on the giants, these huge, ugly, nose-picking, human-hating Guys in the Sky. This go-round Jack (Nicholas Hoult ) goes skyward up an amazing beanstalk (definitely a GMO) with a troop of knights to rescue a princess from a race of giants. And then, the giants come down, utilizing more special effects than you can believe possible, some of them very cool.

Here's what the critics are saying:

The current wave of action-fantasy-adventure films derive from a great many diverse sources: old fairy tales, Tolkien novels, an engaging piece of kitsch like 1981's Clash of the Titans. Yet somehow these movies all seem to take place in the same digitally glossy, generically medieval storybook mud kingdom, with the same essential battles and monsters. They offer intermittently fun and frenetic creature-feature eye candy and, too often, not much else. Entertainment Weekly 

 Working on at least as big a scale as he has on his X-Men and Superman films, Singer confidently handles the combat and big action scenes in what plays as an energetic, robust, old-fashioned romantic adventure yarn; simply in terms of efficient storytelling, clear logistics and consistent viewer engagement, Jack is markedly superior to the recent Hobbit. The approach here is very straightforward, with a light modern feminist and egalitarian slant applied to the question of a princess's lot in life and her availability to a red rather than blue-blooded young man, but no ideas that weren't advanced in Errol Flynn films 75 years ago. At the same time, there's little facetious comedy a la the Pirates of the Caribbean series. It's all traditional stuff, done well but without an original spark. Hollywood Reporter

Singer, director of the better "X-Men" pictures and the densely plotted "Usual Suspects," boasts an extravagant imagination and a welcome touch of seriousness when traffic-managing a complex physical production. Here, though, the seriousness turns heavy-spirited. Despite the light touch of Nicholas Hoult in the leading role, the movie isn't much fun. By the time the giants have descended the beanstalk and laid siege to the king's castle, and the boiling oil comes out with the flaming arrows and the flying flaming trees, it's like: Enough already. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

The screenplay doesn’t seem to know what or who to focus on: Tucci, in particular, gets too little screen time, and McGregor’s reduced to being a sort of nicely coifed second-string hero who skulks around saying things like “Something happened here.” But the talented cast keeps things watchable, as do just enough randomly goofy moments (I enjoyed Isabelle’s unexpectedly stylish armor) and “Jack the Giant Slayer” eventually emerges as a just-good-enough diversion. Hell of a beanstalk, though. Moira McDonald, the Seatle Times

The explanation, we’d imagine, is that Singer just has a thing for enduring stories, whether it’s comic book mythos or folklore that goes back centuries. Never mind that “Jack and the Beanstalk” was just covered by DreamWorks’ “Puss in Boots.” If Singer feels he can think through certain narrative implications in a clever way — and this story does, even with a script by committee — then count him in. – Tom Russo, Boston Globe

I'm pleased to report, however, "Jack the Giant Slayer" is a rousing, original and thoroughly entertaining adventure. Director Bryan Singer, a first-rate cast and a stellar team of screenwriters, set designers and special-effects wizards have dusted off an old and (let's face it) never particularly compelling fairy tale and have given us a great-looking thrill ride in which we actually care about a number of characters.

There's even room for just the hint of empathy for the giants. It's not easy being a giant. … The PG-13 violence, including a close-up of an eyeball popping out of a giant's face, means the action is a little too intense for very young children. But for everyone else, including cynical grown-up critics who didn't think they'd ever give a Fee, a Fi, a Fo or a Fum about this movie, it's a terrific adventure. Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times

"Jack the Giant Slayer" runs 114 minutes and is rated PG-13. Besides Nicholas Hoult, the cast includes Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Bill Nighy and many others.

The movie is playing at Beechwood Cinemas 11 and Carmike Cinemas 12.

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