As the film goes on it becomes increasingly shocking to assimilate the fact that the writer-director team of Christopher McQuarrie and Bryan Singer who made The Usual Suspects have been responsible for the muddle on screen.
Singer seems like a two hit wonder thanks to the horrid Superman Returns and the even worse Valkyrie that preceded this. In Jack the Giant Slayer Singer comes dangerously close to demonstrating that the genius behind Keyser Soze’s story was a fluke. Not only does he fail to create a fresh or likable bunch of central characters but he also fails to create a sense of adventure despite the $200 million CGI entrusted to him.
The film tries to be a radical adult version of the Jack and the Beanstalk, here we have a young (Nicholas Hoult) as a farm boy who falls for the princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) and inadvertently chances upon a bunch of fabled magic beans. The beans sprout into a giant tree that connects the kingdom to the land of the giants. One thing leads to another and Jack sets off with the king’s elite guard to rescue the princess — a plot that seemed stale even when Super Mario came out. Like Snow White and the Huntsman, the film falsely promises to offer a twisted and unique take on a beloved children’s property. What it does offer is a dreadfully written villain (Stanley Tucci) whose back story and intentions were either left on the cutting room floor or were never scripted to begin with.
The giants are incredibly detailed, each one of them has a distinct character — Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum are given some serious screen time and even some character dynamics, which is a nice touch. The giants are also disgusting, some dig their noses and taste their fingers — something kids will enjoy giggling over. The humans are quite terribly sketched though, each given worse dialogue and motives than the next. Seeing as the film fails completely in story and character, one expects to at least see a decent CGI demo.
The special effects are great and expensive looking, but not something you have never seen before. The characters stare at the imagery as if there is something epic going on but you never once share their sentiment, and the 3D feels as tacked on as ever. The action and big finale are boring and everyone involved in the film seems constantly confused about its target audience. Hopefully, Singer’s X-Men reunion won’t disappoint as well.