REVIEW: ‘Beanstalk’ doesn’t always follow classic tale
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:03
The legends are true; giants are real. At least in “Jack and the Giant Slayer.”
In the kingdom of Cloister, an orphaned young man named Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is charged by his uncle (Christopher Fairbank) to sell his horse and cart in the city.
Jack runs into a monk (Simon Lowe) who offers to buy the horse but gives Jack special beans as collateral with the promise that Jack will be well paid if he delivers the beans to an abbey. The monk gives careful instructions to not allow the beans to get wet.
Jack returns to his uncle, who is highly disappointed and takes some of Jack’s parent’s belongings to sell. Jack remains at the cottage.
Meanwhile, Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) runs away from the castle to go on an adventure and escape the confines of her betrothal to Roderick, (Stanley Tucci) right-hand man of King Brahmwell (Ian McShane.)
A heavy rainstorm slows down the princess and she takes shelter in Jack’s cottage.
As Jack and Isabelle talk, water seeps through the thatched roof and down into the floorboards where one of the beans accidently fell. A monstrous beanstalk blasts through the cottage and takes the princess with it. Jack is left unconscious on the ground.
The next day, the king and his men question Jack about what happened. Horrified the princess may be in danger, the king organizes a rescue party led by Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and his partner Crawe (Eddie Marsan).
The group slowly ascends the beanstalk, where they run into a few things they weren’t expecting: giants and adventure.
Obviously this film is derived from the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” but there are enough differences between the original tale, other movies and this movie to make the experience entertaining.
The story was familiar, so the plot felt simple and predictable. Some of the aspects of the classic tale were altered for clever reasons. The script writers and the director took care to show parallels between Jack and Isabelle.
The climax shortchanged the audience. It seemed to build quite well, but it was over too quickly.
The movie was fun, but I wasn’t blown away.
The stunning Tomlinson brings a great level of beauty to the film, but she’s not used to her full potential. The story isn’t about the princess, per se, but it’s difficult to really care about her character. She’s a young rising actress, with past experience in “The Illusionist” and “Alice in Wonderland,” and she’s in five other movies in 2013. Her acting career will be an interesting one to watch.
While not his best job ever, McGregor seemed to have fun with “Jack the Giant Slayer.” He wasn’t as good a leader as he was in “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones,” nor was he as ridiculously funny as he was in “Down with Love,” and he didn’t seem to step up his game as he did for “The Impossible.”
Bremner has never had a big shot in the spotlight, and although he played a ridiculous villain in “Around the World in 80 Days,” his goofiness in “Jack the Giant Slayer” was too over-the-top to be funny and not crazy enough to be evil, so he quickly became annoying. Perhaps he will blow us away in the future, but I’m not holding my breath.
Nighy was something else as the leader of the giants. His distinct voice was a nice feature to the film, but his giant couldn’t match his full set of skills. He showed more strength in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “Underworld” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.”
Warwick Davis makes a great cameo. He briefly returns to the fantasy film world after a two year sabbatical from movies like the “Harry Potter” movies and “Willow.” It was fun to see him telling stories again.
Composer John Ottman brought strength, stability and support to the entire movie with his music. He’s composed the music for all but one of Singer’s feature films, in addition to his work for “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” “The Losers” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.”
His music was perfect for the movie. It’s grand and sweeping with undertones of something epic. It also had elements of thunderous drums at key scenes, perfect for a film of giant proportions.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” isn’t the best movie around, but it’s a fun film that will work as a date movie if fantasy is your thing.
– Spencer Palmer is a graduate student working toward an MBA with a recent bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website, themovieknight.wordpress.com.