I was pleasantly surprised with Jack the Giant Slayer. Despite starring my new actor husband, Nicholas Hoult (see Warm Bodies), I hadn’t had high expectations for the film, but I was wrong in my assumption. Strangely enough, as I have read and re-read my review, I keep finding that it sounds more negative than I meant for it to. I really did enjoy this film even though it may seem like I am being overly critical. Jack the Giant Slayer places a modern twist on a classic fairytale. It infuses a fair amount of humor into some of the otherwise nightmarish scenes (warranting its PG-13 rating). There are numerous murders committed by Roderick (Stanley Tucci) and his evil henchman Wicke (Ewan Bremner), a touch of cannibalism (the race of giants have an appetite for normal size humans), and the film depicts the violent deaths of both humans and giants, leaving little to the imagination. Jack the Giant Slayer includes all of the typical elements of a fairytale from the princess in distress, to the overbearing King forcing his daughter into a loveless marriage, to the underestimated farm boy who ends up saving the day.
One of the obvious themes of the film is forbidden love. There are many parallels drawn between the childhoods of the main characters, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) and Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), and it is evident within the first few minutes that the pair are destined to be together despite their incompatible social statuses. Their major connecting factor is their mutual fondness of the legend of King Erik saving Cloister from the race of giants. After a brief run-in in the marketplace during their teenage years, the pair reconnect in Jack’s highly-in-need-of-maintenance house just before the rain hits and causes one of the magic beans to spout a stalk straight up into the sky. After many valiant attempts at rescuing the Princess, who is trapped in Jack’s house, the pair become separated, Jack slips and lays unconscious in the human world, while Isabelle is propelled by the rapidly growing beanstalk into the giant world above. Jack, who is terrified of heights, eagerly volunteers to climb the beanstalk along with the King’s royal army, and Isabelle’s betrothed, Roderick, on their search for the Princess. The film is titled for Jack and rightly so because, Princess Isabelle only proves to be a strong female lead for the beginning half of the film. Ever since she was a child, Isabelle had a strong desire for adventure, and she would sneak out of the castle to learn about the people she would eventually be leading. When she is separated from Jack, she ventures off into the new and mysterious world on her own to explore her surroundings. But once she enters the giant world, she quickly morphs into the stereotypical princess who needs saving. And while we’re on the subject of women, female giants, and all women in general aside from the Princess and her deceased mother were noticeably absent from the film.
Elmont, played by Ewan McGregor, is arguably the best supporting character in the film. He truly has the Princess’s best interest in mind, and while he reminds Jack before their journey that he is unfit for Isabelle, he recognizes how much the pair care for each other and gives them his blessing so to speak. Elmont is a strong leader, has a good judge of character (he immediately distrusts Roderick), and stays in the giant world to complete his duty without any regard for his own well being. Also admirable is Elmont’s second in command, Crawe, who is played by Eddie Marsen. As always, Stanley Tucci nails his role as the evil power hungry Rodderick, even though we are unable to clearly determine his motivation behind ruling the giants.
Three quarters of the way through the film, there is a false resolution set forth, but fear not, the battle scene you’ve been waiting for is still on the horizon. Originally it seemed disappointing to be subjected to so much fight scene build up, only to be let down by the false resolution. Once I came to terms with the lack of action, I realized I had been tricked and the battle was just beginning. While the film overall is interesting and exciting, it seems to run a little bit longer than necessary. Not that I’m complaining at the prospect of seeing more Nicholas Hoult on the big screen. It could’ve used a bit more focus and development, but as I stated before, despite my many criticisms, I did find Jack and the Giant Slayer to be an enjoyable film. I remember loving it in the theater, and it wasn’t until I began writing and analyzing everything that my opinion was slightly altered.