Movie: Jack the Giant Slayer

Once again, indulgence and a very good movie proved to be the perfect stress breaker package. And yes, Jack the Giant Slayer actually rates as a very good movie (at least for me).

*I still say this is for my research project, which is on modern adaptations of fairy tales.

*Disclaimer: once again, I missed a good few minutes of the movie. I thought the movie would start at so-so. I arrived at the mall at ten past. Still, I say:


Rating: 4.0/5

Details: The 100-minute fantasy and adventure film focuses on the heroics of Jack, a sometimes-clever and spirited farm boy, as he joins a group of royal guards and a Machiavellian lord in climbing up the beanstalk (which accidentally sprouted from under his house, one dark and stormy night) for the lost princess. This modern adaptation of the tales Jack the Giant Killer and Jack and the Beanstalk was directed by Bryan Singer and stars Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, a bunch of other people and Ewan McGregor.

Review: There were so many lovable things about this movie (so much so that I left the theater house with a satisfied smile on my face). First were the characters: all of the actors exuded waves of charisma, instilling life in otherwise dull and overdone archetypes. Smart, adventurous but awkward farm boy? Been there already, but Nicholas Hoult adds a sense of realism and hesitation to his body language that makes Jack fun to watch. Eleanor Tomlinson’s princess of the realm also fits her trope to the T –a sheltered princess looking for adventure– but she fits it with aplomb, and with more spirit than similar castings besides. I especially loved one of the royal guards (whose face was incredibly charismatic; guess who?).

But it’s not just the portrayal of the characters which had me smiling. I salute the writers and directors for composing a film that had twists and turns which were predictable (though to me only in hindsight). Fee Fye Fo Fumm and the near-death scenes made my heart beat faster. I was thinking throughout several scenes what’s going to happen or how are they going to get out of here, and I suppose I’m not Sherlock Holmes (or I’m in the wrong mode), as I was left in suspense for the very logical and actually foreshadowed events which followed.

Of course, some events were still left largely unbelievable or incredibly lucky –most of Jack’s heroics, for example, and the fact that, quite incredibly, all of my favorite characters were left alive. The power of the legendary crown was also ambiguous, sometimes just powerful enough but sometimes very clearly not absolute. But I suppose that’s the beauty in Bryan Singer’s deconstructed world. While it wanted to have a sense of realism –a continuity with the real world/modern age (though I’m still not sure how I feel about that), sensical and detailed liveries— it also welcomed all the mythicism, adventurous and fantastical spirits the original fairy tale was built on.

The only things I wasn’t exactly set on were the scoring and some of the blocking. I quite distinctly remember being jarred out of a scene because the music wasn’t quite right or rather was a little too much. Some of the scenes had me wondering what the director was doing, putting things in the way and unflattering the actors, as the blocking was just confusing and not additive. I would say I’m not satisfied with the plot or the dialogue, but I wasn’t expecting aces in either of those categories in the first place. Jack the Giant Slayer is exactly what it advertised to be: another adaptation with adventure, fighting, a dash of romance and the promise of good actors.

But it’s still A Good Movie. The world construction was beautiful (the set, the mythos, everything), albeit not very extensive (it didn’t have to be). It won’t win an Oscar for depth or originality, but it does win a couple of gigabytes saved in my laptop.

Here comes the thunder, the giant said. And so it did. Somewhat unexpectedly.

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