Jack the Giant Slayer, 2013, PG-13, 114 minutes
At the start of director Bryan Singer's Jack The Giant Slayer, we are told that in Jack's world, the story of a war between humans and giants in the sky has become legend, a folktale told to children at bedtime. The beans that grew into a massive beanstalk were created by dark magic, and only with the help of an equally magical crown forged for the king were human beings able to beat back the hordes of slavering giants.
The story gets underway when Jack, played Nicholas Hoult, is given those same magic beans and they turn out to be quite real. He accidentally gets a bean wet and a beanstalk grows under his house, lifting it into the sky. As an added complication, the kingdom's young, beautiful princess is trapped in the house when the stalk grows. Jack, who fell in love with the princess at first sight, quickly joins a group of the king's men on a quest to save her and ventures into the dangerous kingdom in the sky.
The main problem with Jack the Giant Slayer is that it doesn't seem quite sure of the appropriate tone for this story. When it is full of epic battles and dark magic, it seems like it wants to be taken more seriously, but then a bit of campy acting or some gross-out humor completely dispels that notion.
The supporting characters in particular seem to support the idea that the filmmakers actually wanted Jack the Giant Slayer to be funnier than it is. Ewan McGregor plays the head of the royal guardsmen as the sort of chap who actually says "tally-ho!" when launching into the air. Stanley Tucci, wearing a long, curly wig and grinning like a maniac, plays a villain who doesn't need a motivation because he's just evil. He's also engaged to the princess, but that never really feels like much of a threat because he ignores her as soon as he is given the chance.
Jack tries to provide a little bit of everything for everyone. It has gross-out humor for the kids, epic battles for the Lord of the Rings fans and some poorly motivated romance for the sentimental among us. Unfortunately the characterizations are flat, the dialogue is unremarkable, and it's odd to see Bryan Singer's name attached to what feels like a very generic CGI spectacle.
2 out of 5 stars
Originally published at Austin.com