Jack the Giant Slayer review

This large budget family adventure flopped big-time in the US after a troubled making. It's a traditional CGI affair, ambitious and enjoyable; its failure to lure in audiences somewhat unjust.

Hoult is genial enough as poor farm boy Jack, in love with the olde worlde town's Princess Isabelle (Tomlinson). She's bored with her regal existence and craves adaventure. And boy does she get in when a magic bean that Jack has acquired gets wet, culminating in the massive beanstalk sprouting up and her trapped with it. The King (McShane) sends a party to rescue her with Jack joining them. At the top of the beanstalk they encounter the land of the giants – smelly, predatory and ugly miscreants led by an unrecognisable Nighy who want the crown. There's skullduggery afoot with a scheming Tucci battling stalwart soldier McGregor, before the the giants come back down to earth for a final battle against the kingdom.

It's fast moving and consistently engaging with the lead players all hitting the right notes – they play their roles with a glint on their eyes. You can see they're not taking it 100% seriously, but they perform it all with persuasive good spirits. There's an overuse of music, in keeping with all Hollywood blockbusters now, and the relentless CGI effects are well accomplished, though the trickery they trot out becomes less beguiling each time out.  The giants storm the battlement with flair and there's plentiful displays of derring do from the plucky people trying to stop them. It's undemanding fun delivered with confidence and brio, nothing earth shattering but agreeable and good natured.

Jack the Giant Slayer at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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