In Cinemas now – Jack The Giant Slayer: Review by William McClean

Jack The Giant Slayer **

Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 114 minutes

Directed By: Bryan Singer

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci

EVERY so often a film comes along that makes you wonder why a studio ever bothered to make it and more importantly who would actually want to go watch it? That’s exactly the case with Bryan Singer’s latest feature, Jack the Giant Slayer. In development since 2005 and originally entitled Jack the Giant Killer much like last year’s sci-fi flop John Carter producers were worried the original title would harm the film’s box-office appeal, so they renamed it.

But the title is the least of this film’s problems. It lacks any real star power, poor special effects and worst of all an uninspired predictable screenplay. Despite having a 12A viewing certificate the film feels like it’s pitched for viewers around the age of 9 and 10, older children and parents alike might find this 2 hour feature a tad dull.

Nicholas Hoult stars as the aforementioned Jack, a young farm hand who inadvertently reignites an ancient war between humans and a race of violent giants, who bizarrely speak with Northern Irish accents. After reopening a gateway between the two worlds the young farm hand must become a hero to his kingdom and save the beautiful princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) from the clutches of the giants, led by the two-headed General Fallon, voiced by Bill Nighy.

Climbing a gigantic beanstalk, Jack is joined by a band of the king’s bravest soldiers, led by Ewan McGregor’s character Elmont. McGregor’s performance evokes the memories of his turn as Obi Wan in the Star Wars prequels, even repeating his memorable line: “I’ve a bad feeling about this.”

American actor Stanley Tucci almost saves the day, he’s on fine form throughout, hamming it up and giving a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek performance as the film’s nefarious villain. But like his co-stars he’s let down by such a cliché-ridden and cumbersome script.

It’s all formulaic fantasy adventure stuff, ticking the boxes viewers would expect from such a generic feature, but it’s all so tediously run of the mill. Considering that the movie’s release was delayed for almost a year to allow time for post-production work on the special effects, it’s surprising that they still look so terribly substandard.

The giants themselves lack any real physicality onscreen and the film’s numerous battle sequences just don’t cut the mustard. Worse still the time taken to retrofit the film with 3D effects was an exercise in futility, as the finished product is superfluous to the overall viewing experience.

Playing out like a big-budget pantomime, it feels strange that the film wasn’t released over the festive period, stranger still is the involvement of Singer himself. He was once the toast of Hollywood with his work on film’s such as The Usual Suspects and the first two X Men movies, but since his attempted reboot of the Superman franchise flopped, he’s struggled to return to his past glories. This film isn’t dreadful, but it’s hardly going to reignite his career.

Everybody knows the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and you have to wonder why Hollywood felt the needed to make a big-budget adaptation. Sadly this retelling is severely hampered by its bland dialogue, terrible editing and cringe worthy special effects. Over the Easter period, this film might keep children entertained for a few hours but this reviewer would suggest there are alternative films already on release that are much more enjoyable than this.

By William McClean

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