By Hope Madden
Have you ever wanted to see a nose so big you might be swallowed whole by its gaping pores? In 3D, no less? Director Bryan Singer (X-Men) hopes so, because he means to shake up our chilly moviegoer blahs with an enormous adventure filled with ill-tempered, poorly groomed giants. It’s Jack the Giant Slayer, Singer’s attempt to cash in on teen romance, 3D, and the dearth of late winter entertainment.
The story veers a bit from the nursery school fable, in that there’s an adventurous princess, a back stabbing egomaniac suitor, a crown made of giant heart, and no golden goose at all. Plus, there are an awful lot more giants than I remember.
Wisely, Singer sees the opportunity for medieval battle on a grand scale. Like a giant scale. And once we finally get to some action, the film’s a lot of fun. But beware: its prelude is a long slog.
Singer’s first foray into the third dimension bores. Giants look like unconvincing cartoons, the views are nice but not spectacular, and the action sequences – though entertaining – benefit in no way from the technology.
Nicholas Hoult finished Twilight-ing zombies for Warm Bodies just in time to pull that same shit with this old fairy tale. While he’s a very likeable soul, he brings too little energy or magnetism to the screen.
A sly Ewan McGregor, on the other hand, charms as the princess’s main guardian, his ever wackier hairstyle (who knew so much product was available in days of yore?), captivating smile and over-the-top gallantry injecting the flick with some much needed vibrancy.
The great Stanley Tucci finds himself underused – a particular shame because he makes such a great villain, and his comic timing could have helped the film find more enjoyable footing. Also underutilized is Bill Nighy, voice of one of evil giant General Fallon’s heads. Plus, the usually wonderful Ian McShane just looks silly in that suit of gold armor.
Singer’s pace is leaden, and his patchwork script puts off action far too long to keep your attention. The film’s slightly too violent and far too slow for very young viewers, yet too earnest and lumbering for anyone else. The FX can’t even impress.
There’s nothing especially awful about Jack the Giant Slayer (though, I, for one, was hoping for a slightly different ending). Maybe Hollywood thought that good was enough for late winter at the movies.
2 stars (out of 5)