March has become the new beginning for the blockbuster season. It’s were studios release high budget films that can’t compete with the higher profile movies. And Jack the Giant Slayer couldn’t have competed with the movies coming out this summer.
Jack the Giant Slayer is one light movie. It can’t figure out if it wants to go straight camp or be serious. What the audience ends up getting is a confusingly toned film, that we laugh at for the wrong reasons. The plot is rather brisk, wasting no time in getting Jack to the city of giants. This ends up working in the favor of the movie, as focusing on any aspect for too long would show the glaring holes in the script. If you have watched Once Upon a Time on ABC, you’ll notice some similarities. Take a classic tale, change it ever so slightly, and add a bit of violence. Except Once Upon a Time does it a lot better. Slayer seems like a cash grab for the fairytale retelling. It’s cheap, and shows no brains. Slayer would have been better to go with the campy tone. There are bits of brilliance in the development of Stanley Tucci’s character, who is a mustache twirling bastard.
The screenplay, rewritten quite a few times, is downright laughable. None of the main characters are developed in any way, other than the classic character beats. If you have seen a sword and sandal epic from the 80’s, you know the script like the back of your hand. If everyone involved would have tried a little harder, Jack the Giant Slayer would have been a better movie.
The CGI is downright terrible. The comparisons to Once Upon a Time come back, as Once has better CGI. And it’s TV show. The seams between real life and digital are so apparent, it makes some scenes cringeworthy. How did it get released by the studio? This is the worst CGI in a film since Green Lantern. I’m glad I didn’t see Slayer in 3D, as I would have asked for my money back. The production level is quite nice though. The massive sets help bring the audience into each scene. The same could be said for the costumes as well. Even in terrible movies, someone tried their hardest. And in Jack the Giant Slayer, it’s clear the costume designer and production designer worked their ass off.
The acting is surprisingly good considering the lack of script. Each character is likable to a point. Nicholas Hoult (Jack) and Eleanor Tomlinson (Isabelle) do have some chemistry, but the script keeps it from sparking at all. Ewan McGregor is good as the main guard. McGregor goes the campy route, which makes him more likable than the Jack and Isabelle. Ian McShane, as the king, stands there and lets his beard do all the acting. Stanley Tucci is hysterical as the B-villain. He is the classic mustache twirling villain. And if you’re asking, yes, he literally twirled his mustache in one scene. He clearly understood that campy would have been the better route to go.
Jack the Giant Slayer isn’t that great of a movie, but there are worse films out there. It’s worth a view when it eventually airs on TBS on a Saturday. Or it’s $5 in a discount Blu-Ray bin.
Jack the Giant Slayer gets 3/5.
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