Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremnar.
Rated: PG-13. Adventure/Fantasy. Running Time: 1 hour 54 minutes.
Can’t say I was dying to see this one, but when it showed up in our Redbox, I thought it might be fun to watch with Maria and Ethan. You know, because he is a PG-13 veteran now. It started with Jurassic Park in re-release, then on our vacation his sisters had him watching a Jim Carrey marathon of Dumb and Dumber and a couple of Ace Venturas. I capped that off with Stand by Me, so I figured he could handle some CGI giants, and he did. This new take on a very old fable was really not so bad. In this rendition, Jack (Hoult) isn’t so much a boy rube being bilked out of the family cow. More like an almost grown man with a sense of adventure. There is a Princess (Tomlinson) injected into the story, and Jack climbs that bean stalk more on a rescue mission for love, than to redeem himself by stealing the Golden Goose. Also, he is not alone on his climb, as the King (McShane) has sent his best men along. The highly virtuous and likeable Elmont (McGregor) and the sinister Roderick (Tucci at his evil best) among them. Finally, Jack doesn’t have to deal with just one giant, but a whole community of them. By the way, Nicholas Hoult is nearly unrecognizable from the kid who played opposite Hugh Grant in 2002’s About a Boy. It’s hard to believe that frumpy, chunky kid grew into this tall, good looking man who is dating Jennifer Lawrence. And if you have never seen it, About a Boy is great! Rent it or watch it the next time you see it on HBO etc.
Hoult and Lawrence have had an on again, off again love affair since their meeting on X-men First Class, which is where I first sniped him as Marcus from About A Boy. Recently, I’ve seen the kid everywhere including another film I skipped in the theatre, Warm Bodies. His lady love has been dominating box offices with her role as Katniss in the Hunger Games trilogy and a critically acclaimed, award winning portrayal of a young widow in Silver Linings Playbook. Hoult hasn’t seen the same overnight boost of success. Unfortunately, Jack the Giant Slayer didn’t kill at the box office, but it had some developmental and production hiccups. The most widespread explanation is the conflict between the director’s darker vision for the film and the studios desire to make it family friendly. They landed somewhere in the middle with a PG-13 rating, which drastically pigeon holed their target audience. This indecision greatly affected the final product as well. I enjoyed it, but it oozed the mediocrity of a compromise.
I didn’t realize they were intending to make this an R-rated horror movie, but now that I do, I can see it for sure. There were some pretty nasty giant, eating people scenes, that were implied. Edited down, sans gore no doubt. Jack the Giant Slayer for the most part kept me entertained, which is an endorsement of sorts in this day of movie making. A couple performances of note: Ian McShane played the King quite subdued, which is unusual for Ian, and it worked well. My favorite though was Stanley Tucci’s conscienceless Roderick. Honestly Tucci has always been one of my favorite actors. One of the few who can excel at good guy parts as well as bad. He was SUPER creepy as the serial killer in The Lovely Bones. A persistent thorn in Tom Hanks’ side in The Terminal. Fantastic as a budding restaurant owner opposite Tony Shalhoub in Big Night. And he pulls off gay just fine in The Devil Wears Prada, and to a lesser extent, in the current Hunger Games trilogy. He really is one of the most underrated actors of this generation. Final thoughts on JTGS: Nicholas Hoult has an easy likeability that may just serve him well going forward. Tucci is Tucci. And the CGI giants are simultaneously cool and gross. It’s not going to go down in history as a classic, but spending a $1.27 at Redbox? You could do worse.
I agree that it was worth a watch. My personal favorite was Ewan McGregor’s determined Elmont. I found the chemistry between him and Jack very genuine. McGregor has always been one of my favorites and I thought this role was out of his usual comfort zone. He still emanated his usual trappings of breathless charm and clever wit. Tucci is great, as always. And I agree with Ross, this Hoult kid has a promising future, as long as he finds the right vehicle. He should most definitely take a cue from his gal pal and maybe try the independent film circuit. Sadly, the film as a whole was riddled with problems that kept it from commercial success. The MPAA rating was an accurate indicator of what my rating will be…somewhere in the middle.
Ross’ Rating: 2.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.
Maria’s Rating: 2.5 Gummies.
Good review. I would recommend seeing it if you’re looking for a mindless action flick and you just want something to do for over an hour and a half.