Reviewed by: Tober Corrigan
|Featuring:||Nicholas Hoult … Jack
Ewan McGregor … Elmont
Stanley Tucci … Lord Roderick
Bill Nighy … General Fallon
Ian McShane … King Brahmwell
Eleanor Tomlinson … Princess Isabelle
|Producer:||New Line Cinema
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures|
“Fee-fi-fo-fum.” This iconic line from the classic tale of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk opens this strange piece of derivative fantasy. The story follows the young commoner Jack, who happens upon those magical beans that have the ability to create a giant beanstalk connecting Earth to the realm of the giants. Along the way, Jack makes friends with the princess of the city, Isabelle, and some of the King’s top men. The duration of the film plays out as a fast-paced race to save the princess, stop the giants, save the city, etc., etc. Nothing here is really new.
Overall, this movie is an extremely mild (at least by today’s standards) PG-13. Yet, in an attempt to attain that wide Lord of the Rings-ish fan base, the film also markets itself as a movie for young and old. I simply find this movie too grotesque to be seen by children. People are eaten, mutilated, thrown around, stabbed, and beaten up consistently throughout. Admittedly, most of these actions are only implied, sometimes seeing only a bloodless aftermath. This desensitized portrayal of “clean” violence, as if there was such a thing, could prove just as dangerous to the young viewer. Besides the gratuitous cartoon violence and the use of “p—- off” and “b—tard,” sexual and drug content is nearly nonexistent.
Outside of strict content, there is some potentially troubling mythology at play here, which could prove frustrating. In the opening montage, retelling an ancient “myth,” monks are depicted as dabbling into dark magic in order to conquer the giants. Overall, monks, the only representative of spirituality/religion in the movie, are depicted as suspicious and perhaps, a little shallow. This is a very minor dig on what is a rather subtle part of the movie, but for some reason, besides how derived the mythology comes off as, the thin line established between Christianity and dark magic was a little frightening.
As for moviemaking quality, the story is abysmally generic. Every beat is exactly as one would imagine it, the visual cues are overtly on-the-nose, and any sense of adventure is, for the most part, sucked away by the lack of originality at play. Fortunately for the viewer, everyone else working on the project is giving it their all. The film is sufficiently directed by the always-reliable Bryan Singer. The confident sense of scope in the production design and visual effects were admirable enough to keep me interested in the action long after the story had allowed for caring. The cast does the best with the little to nothing they are given. Ewan McGregor, though way out of place with his spiky hair and modern sensibilities, nevertheless adds charm and fun to the lifeless adventure. Stanley Tucci twirls that mustache well as the typecast villain. And perhaps the actor who adds the most to his role, Ian McShane, is shamefully underused. Even the most memorable part of the movie, John Ottman’s lively musical cues, still felt like just another score attempting to recapture the magic of Howard Shore’s work on Lord of the Rings.
In conclusion, I can fail to recommend this movie either for moviemaking quality or content, simply because I have no idea who this is supposed to appease. The film is too liberal in its use of violence for young kids, yet the script is much too dull and predictable for even the average teenager to appreciate. One could do much better, and yet, when seeing the other films currently playing at the multiplexes, one could also do much worse.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.