Jack the Giant Slayer

The old fairy tail of Jack and the Beanstalk has been a staple in movies and television, with versions including Disney’s Mickey and the Beanstalk, several Looney Tunes cartoons, a segment in the recent Puss in Boots animated feature, a recent TV episode of Once Upon a Time, and even a 1952 Abbot and Costello movie. In Jack the Giant Slayer, teen Jack trades his uncle’s horse and cart for those magic beans. When the beans sprout and the beanstalk grows, a local princess is carried aloft with it. Jack volunteers to help, and together with a hastily organized rescue party, climbs the beanstalk to find her. At the top, they encounter not only a whole army of nasty giants (confirming a local legend) but also an enemy in their own midst.

The story overall is a bit of a mess, but it begins well and wraps up with a rousing, giant-versus-human battle. The human characters are also interesting and well acted: a (slightly bland) Jack, a beautiful and free-spirited princess, an evil villain (Stanley Tucci, not taking it all that seriously but rather having some broad, overacting fun with the part), a noble nobleman (Ewan McGregor, he of the “I have a bad feeling about this” cliché—actually used again here!), and a king who ultimately proves to be more sympathetic and heroic than your typical movie monarch (Ian McShane, far from his usual bad-guy typecasting).

1113jack.box.jpgThe giants are gross, likely intended to appeal to the target audience of 13-year-old boys. In part, the giants are played for humor, though with limited success. They’re also rich with purloined gold that they keep locked away—not that there’s actually much around to spend it on. Ultimately they attack the land of the humans, presumably in search of soap and Big and Tall Guy clothing stores.

The superb cinematography and pristine video transfer here leave little to be desired. The 3D depth is effectively used, though it’s more for eye-candy thrills than necessary to the story. The DTS-HD Master Audio does get a little edgy in the loud bits, but it’s impressive, with clear dialogue and a nicely recorded music score. There’s also plenty of thunderous bass, with nasty thunderstorms (it apparently rains a lot in this kingdom), the sprouting of the beanstalk, and all those giants galumphing around.

The extras include deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and several making-of featurettes that can only be opened as “awards” in an otherwise tedious Climbing the Beanstalk interactive game.

Blu-Ray 3D
Studio: New Line, 2013
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 114 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Nicholas Hault, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor