‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ fails to slay anything

Cristina Lule

Based on the English folk tale, “Jack the Giant Slayer” engrossed us in the world recited to us by our parents and school teachers growing up, but cultivates none of the magic that originally drew us in.

Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is not the young boy we remember from the stories but an 18-year-old farmhand who goes to town one day to sell his horse. He runs into a monk who takes the horse and in exchange offers him a pouch with beans. During a rainstorm, one of the beans gets wet. It grows beyond foreseeable heights and Jack must climb to the top to save a princess and his Kingdom from the giants who reside in the sky-high land.

The film is directed by Bryan Singer who also directed the cult-classic “The Usual Suspects” and produced the popular series “House,” but tarnished his career with mishaps like “Valkyrie” and “Superman Returns.” In “Jack the Giant Slayer,” he makes no attempt to reach the same caliber as his more reputable work.

The film never manages a smooth narrative flow, roughly transitioning from scene to scene with little character development. For such a beloved literary character, there is little to love about Jack from what we’re shown. Sadly, it is the giants who show more personality than the actors and even then it is not enough to salvage this film.

Singer manages an impressive cast with Hoult, who has had a good year so far. His latest film “Warm Bodies” has grossed nearly $60 million nationally and currently has a fresh rating on rottentomatoes.com of 78 percent, so he’ll be sure to rebound quickly from this career faux pas.

The film also stars Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane and Bill Nighy, but Singer and the film’s screen writers disparage their talent with a screenplay full of dry lines and inescapable puns.

At one point the monk is held captive and a Kings guard says, “He won’t spill the beans.” In another scene, McGregor’s character says “Let’s cut a few of them (giants) down to size, shall we.” So, in the presumptuous quest to put an end to one-liners, let it be known that “Jack the Giant Slayer” falls short on puns.

The film’s special effects are nothing worth admiring. The detail on a giant’s face in one scene is grotesque yet visually striking, but not necessary to see in 3-D or even 2-D to be honest.

The film never reaches its full creative potential and ultimately plays out like the pages of a fairy tale book: two – dimensional, filled with cheeky verses and imaginatively limited by the borders that surround its images.