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2 1/2 stars out of 4
I have to confess that I was reluctant to review this film, after wasting my time and loot on the recent bomb "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters." However, I was pleasantly surprised at this particular fairy tale re-telling.
Nicholas Hoult (lead zombie boy from last month's pretty good "Warm Bodies") plays farm boy Jack who, while entrusted by his uncle to go into town to sell their horse and cart for needed supplies, winds up instead with ancient beans full of "dark magic" from a monk on the run for his life. Turns out that the beans are also sought by the king's trusted adviser Roderick (Stanley Tucci, looking a lot like Borat) who knows of their sinister powers. Jack accidentally meets Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), and of course, the two become star-crossed lovers. Jack's beans accidentally sprout under his house, forming the big ol' beanstalk that reaches to the land of the giants, and accidentally carries Isabelle along for the ride. The rescue party is led by Jack along with Isabelle's assigned protector Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and reignites a long-dormant war between giants and humans.
Good casting, plenty of action, OK acting and a (somewhat) believable plot -- remember, it's a fairy tale -- combine to make "Jack the Giant Slayer" a decent bit of escapism.
-- Tim Weekley, Suwanee
2 1/2 stars out of 4
In a refreshingly contemporary take of the age old fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk, "Jack the Giant Slayer" tells the story behind the story. Nicholas Hoult of "X-Men" fame plays the poor farm boy Jack, who was raised listening to stories of the possibility of adventure and the existence of giants. His love interest, the princess, is played by Eleanor Tomlinson of "Alice in Wonderland," and the incredibly talented Ewan McGregor and Ian McShane top off the cast.
I thought the movie was extremely well cast and had a creative twist on an otherwise predictable and well-known story. The giants were incredible -- and by that I mean blatantly poor CGI.
As for the plot of the story, though, it came full circle in several ways, which I don't want to detail should you decide to go see it. I really liked the symmetry, though, of how the storyline came full circle in so many ways. It's a light and entertaining film, and an enjoyable watch for the matinee price. I don't think it warrants the full price.
-- Cathryn Veal, Lawrenceville
3 stars out of 4
In the latest movie to tap into a fairy tale, "Jack the Giant Slayer" takes the simple story of Jack and the Beanstalk to a larger big screen level. Staying with the basics, the simple farm boy Jack indeed trades his horse for a bag of beans and accidently gets one wet, causing a very impressive bean stalk to shoot his house into the sky. In this version, the kingdom's princess Isabella, who was visiting the farm boy, goes up with Jack's house on top of the stalk. Jack is tasked with saving Isabelle and stopping the giants from wiping out mankind in the process.
The movie delivers lots of action, battles and fantastic special effects, however the giants failed to live up to the CGI realism we expect from movies today. They looked robotic and cartoonish. The storyline is simple with no surprises but is still entertaining and has a good pace. The film is packed with great actors, Ian McShane (King Brahmwell), Stanley Tucci (Roderick) and Ewan McGregor (Elmont) in supporting roles, but they fail to give their characters any depth in this predictable tale. Nicholas Hoult (Jack) and Eleanor Tomlinson (Isabelle) have good chemistry and carry the story with humor and wit. Overall, "Jack" is an entertaining story with light humor and lots of action. It delivers what you would expect from a fairy tale big screen CGI adaptation, but comes up just a little bit short.
-- Ken Gamble, Lawrenceville