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Review Roundup: 'Jack the Giant Slayer,' from Fee-Fi to Ho-Hum, End of Fairy Tale Rainbow?

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood February 27, 2013 at 12:40PM

Critics are divided on Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Slayer," starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Eleanor Tomlinson. Some bluntly call it "pretty dumb" and label it as yet another Hollywood cash-in on the fairytale trend, while others find Singer's direction admirable -- "smart, thrilling and a whole lot of fun." Roundup below.
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Nicholas Hoult in "Jack the Giant Slayer"
Nicholas Hoult in "Jack the Giant Slayer"

Critics are divided on Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Slayer," starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Eleanor Tomlinson. Some bluntly call it "pretty dumb" and label it as yet another Hollywood cash-in on the fairytale trend, while others find Singer's direction admirable -- "smart, thrilling and a whole lot of fun." Roundup below.

The film cost Warner Bros. a giant $185 million, and is likely facing an uphill climb at the box office this weekend after having its release date pushed back by nearly a year (it was originally scheduled for summer of 2012). It joins a slew of other tentpoles facing similar delay problems, such as Paramount's Brad Pitt zombie-pocalypse title "World War Z" and "G.I. Joe Retalliation," which underwent re-shoots to incorporate more of 2012 breakout star Channing Tatum, and Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," originally slotted for this past Oscar season and now opening amid popcorn fare in May.

EW posits that "Jack the Giant Slayer" faces demographic problems -- who is the film for? It also comes at what could be the end of a series of underperforming fairytale flicks: "Red Riding Hood," "Mirror Mirror" and "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" all fizzled. Still to come with more favorable prospects is Sam Raimi's VFX-driven "Oz the Great and Powerful."

And here's THR on the film's tough upcoming opening weekend.

Variety:

Fee-fi-fo-fum, this fairy-tale retread is pretty dumb. Feeding the recent appetite for revisionist screen fantasies ("Snow White and the Huntsman," "Mirror Mirror," "Once Upon a Time"), "Jack the Giant Slayer" feels, unsurprisingly, like an attempt to cash in on a trend, recycling storybook characters, situations and battle sequences to mechanical and wearyingly predictable effect. A disappointment coming from the usually more distinctive Bryan Singer, the Warners release will struggle to score the mammoth returns needed to recoup its not-inconsiderable budget, with an indifferent 3D conversion unlikely to offset f/x fatigue even among the youngish audience being targeted.

Hollywood Reporter:

Working on at least as big a scale as he has on his X-Men and Superman films, Singer confidently handles the combat and big action scenes in what plays as an energetic, robust, old-fashioned romantic adventure yarn; simply in terms of efficient storytelling, clear logistics and consistent viewer engagement, Jack is markedly superior to the recent Hobbit. 

San Francisco Chronicle:

A big-budget, effects-laden, 3-D retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk legend may seem like the unlikeliest pairing yet of director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie, but "Jack the Giant Slayer" ends up being smart, thrilling and a whole lot of fun.

Screen:

Peddling pat celebrations of valour and perseverance, but marked by distressingly humdrum characterisations, director Bryan Singer’s Jack The Giant Slayer arrives as a piece of showcase entertainment for the continued advancement of in particular facial motion-capture, putting its characters through an effects-laden steeplechase that squeezes out some synthetic bedazzlement unattached to much in the way of deep or transportive feeling.

Huffington Post:

You barely care about most of the live characters, let alone the CG ones. The action is never captivating or even very convincing. And the story is mostly an excuse for outsized action setpieces -- and there's very little that's magical about those.

The Playlist:

Part of the problem has been an issue of approach, with fairy tale films either choosing to aim for kids, or go dark for tweens, with very little middleground. But that’s a problem screenwriters Christohper McQuarrie, Darren Lemke, and Dan Studney solve with “Jack The Giant Slayer,” a movie that aims for that soft, MOR mainstream audience, but takes its source material and executes its modest ambitions into a satisfying big screen adventure.

This article is related to: Reviews, Reviews, Bryan Singer, Jack the Giant Slayer, Ewan McGregor, Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci


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