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Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)




Clever or not, anything that smacks of “fairytale” means this moviegoer is sure to look into it. Whether or not it’s the cleverest entertainment doesn’t seem to matter in the end – a meet-cute and happy-ever-after is all I need.  

Fate is about to entwine the lives of a simple farm boy and a princess. After being treated like a treasure to protect instead of the future ruler, Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) has been scolded by her father (Ian McShane) for the last time. Or that is what she thinks. This time she is determined to prove her mettle which leads her straight to the home of Jack (Nicholas Hoult). As children, both Isabelle and Jack were told legends of giants and magic beans in a land that saw no security until Isabelle’s ancestor banned the giants to a land where they could no longer harm his people, giving them peace. Years later, Jack has ended up with a satchel full of beans – something he has no idea the value in what he holds.  

Looking for an adventure, Isabelle’s plans suddenly go array when the pair get trapped in Jack’s home by a giant stalk bursting through the floorboards as it grows wildly up into the sky, trapping Isabelle, taking her and the house with it. With the princess potentially in danger, Jack sets off to rescue her, fighting off unexpected enemies and secrets in the journey to return her to her throne.  

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Some fairytales seem to get all the luck. While everyone is gushing over princesses and princes, those that are lesser-known are lost in the shuffle. Fortunately, with ABC’s Once Upon a Time and various other re-tellings of Grimm classics bringing up a rousing fascination of the beloved fables origins, fresh spins on them is in vogue making this no better time to embark on those re-imaginings. With little marketing but an impressive cast list, this recent adaptation may have escaped everyone’s notice. I’d gotten some thoughts on it from a friend (thanks, Charity!) and was all the more anxious to see it because of that.

Fortunate enough to get a copy on its first week to DVD, the first ten minutes of the movie really did nothing to endear it.  While I liked it fine, there was a missing “spark” that left me begging for the entertainment and fun to begin – where was the adventure? The excitement? It may not have been the most familiar story in my repertoire but I figured that anything that involved a young man climbing up a beanstalk deserved (or demanded) more than scripter’s were putting in. It wasn’t long after than Isabelle is being whisked into the sky and Jack is left with a clonk on the head for his troubles.  


Most of the film unfolds in the “forbidden land” where giants roam; even once the adventure started rolling, this still wasn’t as fast-paced as I’d have expected, there was lots of entertainment value being played up, making us wonder if Jack would succeed to save a friend or how he’d smuggle Isabelle out, and yet it seemed to be playing things conservatively. Countering that is Jack’s character, who is written really well here. He starts out as a farmer, having no expectations for anything and becomes a noble hero – his heroism is born, not made and it compels the script to betterment, especially considering it had to splice the story to share part of its principle with a female character, one that originally had no female counterpart.

Perhaps what this movie does best is the humor. It’s insanely fun, inserted in all the right places – and some of which was likely never intended. Also impressive is the cast! I think I can safely say Hoult is quickly becoming one of my favorite heroes on the silver screen; I’ve watched him play “dead” (Warm Bodies), seen him step comfortably into the role of a beastly superhero (X-Men) and now, enjoyed his take on an iconic titular character. Though it’s not as prevalent as a storybook that is inspired and carried by love, the romantics between Jack and Isabelle were sweet, and I liked the actress’ fragile beauty and acting who played her. Also in the cast are Ewan McGregor and Stanly Tucci. (Like I said – great cast!) 

Much as I enjoyed the movie, I can admit the screenplay gets a little silly sometimes. Seconds after being reunited with her father, Isabelle emerges from a makeshift tent looking like she’s spent hours beautifying or the few bits of sappy dialogue. Really, I appreciated the movie even in these instances since it never considered itself “epic” nor did it try to pawn itself off in that vein – in fact, really there is a lot of tongue and cheek humor in which it pokes fun at itself. That being said, it has an adorable ending (up until it goes contemporary on us – don’t ruin a good thing, writers!) and impressed when it didn’t take the glaring opportunity to help bolster feminism. Like any good fairytale, all’s well that ends well even minus the few squabbles I had with the story.

In all likelihood I’ll own a copy someday – only thing left to be determined is if patience (leaving it on my wish list for a gift) or impatience (buying it myself) will win out.  

(Parental concerns: there’s some “gory” violence during fights involving the giants though nothing too awful. Humans are “eaten” by giants (briefly the camera sees dismantled bodies flying or hanging out of a mouth) as are animals, and one man is nearly baked as a main course; there is some crude humor. Profanity may be in the script a time or two, nothing horrible. The film is rated PG13.)
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Rissi
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24 comments:

  1. I liked Nicholas Hoult here, but until I saw Man of Steel I thought this movie was the biggest mess of 2013. ;)

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    1. LOL! Bet 'Jack' is glad to have shed that distinction. ;)

      Do you think you'd ever watch this one again, Ruth? I think a second viewing will improve my opinion since I'll know what to expect. Much like Mirror Mirror, I found 'Jack' a fun bit of entertainment.

      Delete
  2. That does sound like a great cast :) My friend saw and said it was pretty good. Based on her thoughts and your review I'll have to get this one into my dvd player pretty soon :D Thank you!

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    1. I know, right!? That cast list continually impressed me - I didn't even realize who some of them were until the credits at the end and of course then I was like, duh!.

      Hope you enjoy if/when you get a copy, Sierra. It was fun!

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  3. I'm a sucker for fairytale movies so I am planning to watch this.
    You said in the review you thought it was silly sometimes. Is it less silly than say ,Mirror , Mirror?

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    1. As am I, Ella! Can never resist a new fairy-tale even if it is a bit silly. What's great about 'Jack' is it knew it wasn't "epic" and didn't care. The humor poked fun at things and I liked that.

      ...hmm, less silly than Mirror Mirror...? I think so. There were more "serious" moments, I suppose.

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  4. Fairy-tale? Same here, haha. :)

    Been wanting to see this one, I should get on that soon. :)

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    1. Happy fairy-tale journeying, Kellie! If you see it, as always I'd enjoy your impression of the film. I thought it was fun and enjoyed that it never took itself too seriously. :)

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  5. Sounds interesting, and I kind of want to watch it now! And Ewan McGregor ... aw :) I've loved him ever since I saw him in Star Wars.

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    1. It was a whole lot of fun, Hannah! Happy watching if you do check it out.

      I've only seen Ewan in one or two things but he was WAY fun in this. He even gets his "moments" to prove loyalty and heroism even though he's not the hero. :)

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  6. I'm normally not to interested in fairy tale movies (well, I love EverAfter), I'm not exactly sure why.. but this one sounds sorta interesting. Even if it may be a little cheesy. =)

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    1. Ooo! I am a sucker for Ever After. It's definitely one of those "keeper" movies.

      We all enjoy something different, Evelyn - and thank goodness for that! It makes life interesting. :) If you do watch 'Jack,' I sure hope you get some laughs out of the experience.

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  7. I can't keep myself away from fairy tale movies, so I'll have to watch this one no matter what! :)

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    1. *high five*

      Neither can I, Bluerose. Bet you and I could share a TON we both liked. :)

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  8. The trailers made this film look terrible, but I really enjoyed it. My only complaint is near the end -- as a girl who loves girl-power endings, I wanted to see the heroine don the crown and control the giants, not Jack. He'd already proven himself a hero -- let her have that moment.

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    1. Prior to seeing this movie, I think I saw its first trailer preceding Warm Bodies which of course, I watched only a week or so prior to 'Jack.' That particular trailer made me laugh and go, "ooh! I want to see this!"

      Spoilers:

      See... I liked that Isabelle didn't don the crown. Maybe it was because I expected her too and it was a surprise to see Jack holding it...

      Small as it was, that took me by surprise.

      End

      Either way, the movie was really fun! :)

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  9. I've wanted to see this since hearing about it before it came to theatres. I still haven't 8-P I plan to rent it as soon as possible, though I am under orders to rent The Eagle first.

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    1. Well, we don't want to challenge those orders! ;)

      When you do finally get to see 'Jack,' I wish you happy watching! It's fun even with the flaws. I like to say, what movie is perfect? None! Each just vary in their degree of disappointments and for a Friday night movie, I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

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  10. I'd read before that it's not a perfect movie. But it sounds pretty fun nonetheless! I've enjoyed several lesser known and perhaps unpopular films over the years. So I'm hoping the day will come quickly that I get my chance to watch this. :)

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    1. It is, Kara! Who needs perfect anyway, right!? ;)

      Definitely one that I'll likely own someday. Like you, I enjoy discovering the "lesser-known" movies also. It's more fun that way.

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  11. This one is one my family wants to see, we just haven't gotten it yet. Lol! Glad your review is mostly positive! :)

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    1. It was fun, Rosie! I think your family would enjoy it - my mom LOVED it. Definitely plan to enjoy re-watches. :)

      Let me know what you all thought of it.

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  12. Overall I liked this one... It did lack something, but if you can overlook that you will be able to enjoy what it does have... Oh, and I totally loved the contemporary ending!!! lol ;)

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    1. Being honest, I probably shouldn't say that the last scene "ruins" the film, Tory but... the fairytale happily-ever-after girl in me liked the scene of Jack with his family - and that was enough. I didn't *need* a tacked on scene. Either way, it was fun even in the flaws. :)

      Delete

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