Sounds tasty. Why not have Jack climb a beanstalk to find a band of ravenous giants ready to bite his dumb head off? And who better than director Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2) to team with his cheeky Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie and turn a bedtime story into a dark fantasy meant for nightmares?
It could have happened. But it so doesn’t. Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, set for release last summer but lying dormant till now, is no sleeping beauty. It’s a bloodless, gutless piece of PG-13 fodder, geared to go down easy. That it does. It practically evaporates while you’re watching it, lulling when you most want it to levitate.
There’s no blaming the cast. As Jack, Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies) gives this bean-crazy farm boy a glint of mischief that matches up well with Ewan McGregor, as the heroic knight Elmont. The two have a sassy chemistry. The same can’t be said of Hoult and the bland Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays Isabelle, the princess who angers her king father (Ian McShane) by rejecting his choice of husband. That would be the evil Roderick. And Stanley Tucci, wearing big fake teeth and a worse wig, swans through the part with a comic zest the rest of the movie sorely lacks.
To make a long, logy story short, the giants in the sky are determined to climb down the beanstalk and take back the land the pesky humans have stolen from them. That’s the conflict. My conflict came in wondering how legions of technicians could create creatures that appear to be tacky leftovers from Clash of the Titans. The giants are computer-generated, and they look it. Fallon, their general, has an extra head. They’re always whispering like gossips. The general has the good luck of being voiced by the great Bill Nighy, who is always a treat. But these CGI giants get lost in a digital blur. Worse, the film is in 3D. Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Martin Scorsese (Hugo) and James Cameron (Avatar) can do wonders with it. Singer botches the job. Jack the Giant Slayer proves the axiom “If you can’t make it good, make it 3D.”