“Fee Fi Fo Fumm
Ask not whence the thunder comes
Ask not where the birds have gone
For between heaven and earth is a perilous place.
Home to a fearsome giant race.
Who hunger to conquer the mortals below
Waiting for the seeds of revenge to grow.”
– Jack the Giant Slayer
Jack the Giant Slayer has a great cast: Ian McShane, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Bill Nighy and newcomers Nicholas Hoult (X-Men First Class, Warm Bodies) and Eleanor Tomlinson.
Jack the Giant Slayer is the reimagining of the timeless tale of Jack the Giant Killer aka Jack and the Beanstalk. The plot is a little meatier than the short story we all know. Jack is a more likeable character. In the original tale he seemed extremely foolhardy, followed by being a down right jerk. In this movie Jack is our hero, and they don’t waste our time with him as the reluctant hero. The Princess needs saving he volunteers to save her. Done and done.
The Jack in JTGS is an orphan who lives with his elderly uncle. He goes to town to sell his horse and cart; there he comes to the aid of Princess Isabelle, our independent-adventure-seeking-damsel in distress. His cart is stolen in the process and he tries to sell his horse. He trades the nag for some magic beans he receives from a monk. We are also introduced to our favorite Metrosexual Uncle-Stanley Tucci as Roderick (our villain), Ian McShane as King Brahmwell and Ewan McGregor as Elmont our obligatory valiant knight.
Jack returns home with his magic beans that crotchety Uncle dismisses as useless and knocks them out of Jack’s hand. He recovers all but one bean. The Princess has escaped the castle to seek an adventure. She finds herself at Jack’s shack. Flirty exchanges are interrupted by the sudden ground-shaking explosion and growth of another character, the beanstalk. The beanstalk grows at a rapid pace trapping Isabelle in the now tree house and leaving our hero helpless on the ground.
This is the where the tale takes a turn. The beanstalk leads to the land of the Giants. Not one Giant but several hundred, big, ugly, foul-smelling, carnivorous Giants. There is a history between man and Giant. King Eric the Great banished the giants to the heavens using a magical crown that gave him command of the giants. The beans and crown were hidden for centuries and Giants became myth. Roderick secretly has the crown and his eyes firmly set on the throne.
The King finds out his daughter is missing and a search party is formed: Jack, Elmont and his men, Roderick and his squire. A day and night of perilous climbing to reach the top of the beanstalk just to find the legend of Giants is all too real.
This is where our heavy CGI begins and it is painful. An estimated 195 million dollar budget and I am not sure how the money was spent. The giants alone are fine but as soon as the live action and CGI are combined it is a green-screened headache.
The story also begins to limp along with endless fart jokes at the expense of the Giants. Actual pigs in a blanket are prepared by a blind singing Chef. Poor Bill Nighy, he voices General Fallon, the 2 headed Giant, whose second head is a small mumbling mess and distraction. Roderick declares himself king of the Giants and commands them to kill Elmont and Jack but spare the Princess. A fight ensues and Roderick is killed, leaving the crown with General Fallon
Our heroes make their escape back to the kingdom. Only to find the Giants have followed them down the stalk with plans to destroy all men. Another battle is waged and through a series of mishaps and some luck. Jack retrieves the crown and saves the kingdom.
The movie was released in 2 versions- DVD $14.99 (Target and Amazon)- with ultraviolet digital copy, deleted scenes and gag reel; Bluray $22.99(Target and Amazon)-with ultraviolet digital copy, deleted scenes, gag reel and a “create your own giant” feature. I did not find the idea of higher quality crappy CGI and the “create your own giant” feature worth the additional money. The deleted scenes included many unfinished CGI scenes, and the gag reel was quite dry. I guess they left all the funny in final cut. Casting note: Ben Daniels- rumored as the next Doctor Who voices the character Fumm.
This movie is probably great for young kids who aren’t scared of monsters. As an adult it just didn’t hit enough points for me. I’ll watch it again if it is on TBS or the SyFy channel on a Saturday afternoon.