Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer
I am confused – maybe you can help me with this: Jack the Giant Slayer didn’t suck, at least not profusely. So why is it doing so poorly in theaters?
Keep in mind that JtGS did better in its North American opening weekend box office take-home than Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a movie that was considered to be a modest success. But in case you don’t know, here’s why it’s a spectacular failure: with a budget almost four times that of Hansel, JtGS is finding that its beanstalk isn’t nearly as large in action as it claimed it would be in the chat room.
Sorry, don’t mean to talk shop with the budget and all. As much as I could talk about why JtGS is a failure from a producer’s standpoint, it’s really not the point here. This isn’t Variety, and all we (the good movie going public) really care about is whether or not the experience is worth our hard-earned cashola. But as another not-so-great movie in a year of chock-full of mediocrity, I’m having a hard time understanding why this film is such a critical failure. Forbes brings up some interesting arguing points, some of the most solid arguments that I could find online, in fact. But, then I reflect on the company that this movie keeps, the other bedtime story remakes like Mirror Mirror (which was apparently was also all spectacle and no heart), but received an average response from forgiving critics.
So, all in all, I’d say this: don’t believe the hype and go see Jack the Giant Slayer because it doesn’t completely suck (you could do a lot worse this week). It’s good watchin’ for what watchin’s worth. That is to say that the expansive budget of JtGS is evident in more than just the ever present CGI. For example, the costumes were outstanding. Keep your eyes peeled during shots that feature Ewan McGregor‘s armor; the attention to texture and design add a great deal to his presence, and details such as his characteristic badges of excellence on the chest plate give this bodyguard a story beyond what we see of his life. The princess Isabelle and the King’s costumes were equally outstanding, even though some of them were in use on screen for mere moments. These made for good moments that made me get lost in the movie, and unless I’m wrong, that’s the point.
I actually desired some shots to go more slowly so that I could take in the minutia: the aerial shot of the castle and the throne room of the giants, creative usage of the human skeleton as a decorative theme (think Better Homes and Gardens for Rob Zombie), or when Ewan McGregor gets trapped in a puff pastry (performance of his career, btw) along with some pigs, a scene in which I was absolutely convinced that the supporting-actors/CGI pigs were practical effects because they looked so real. You can check out the scene with the pigs and read more about the amazing special effects processes that were used in this film at fxguide.com. Hey, hate the film all you want, but give ther professionals their due: this was solid work on their part.
In terms of grandeur, JtGS didn’t really seem to live up to the immense numbers … cash numbers I mean, about $195 million of them. I found myself also considering that Snow White and the Huntsman had affected a much more impressive production in terms of special effects, costume and overall design, and it cost more than $20 million less! Ouch. Maybe it was the total and complete reliance on special effects that drove the budget of JtGS up, but unfortunately, it didn’t add to the viewer’s experience in equal ratio.
But, here is the weak point that needs to be addressed foremost: all of these updated-fairy-tale movies that I’ve mentioned in this article have got one thing in common, and that is weak writing. It is a sad, sad day for mankind when practically every film I’ve seen for months (films that are basically stories we tell in a grandiose medium, as if you need me to remind you) are forgetting the primacy of their freaking story element. It’s absurd! A big budget movie spending millions on artistic and acting talent can get made with a substandard script? But that’s basically what we expect nowadays. What gives? This is usually where I start to rant, so I’m just going to cut it short and take some Nyquil. Peace out.