When I left the cinema, I was okay with Bryan Singer's adventure romp. By the time I sat down to write this review, however, things started to bug me. Then I remembered that it was for kiddies and relaxed a bit. True story!
An intro backstory informs us that, Lord of the Rings style, there was a great war with giants long ago that all but destroyed the human race until a great king created a powerful crown that could control their minds; sending them back to their land high above the clouds, the king then chopped down the beanstalks forever trapping them above. Young farmhand Jack (Hoult) grew up on this legend and learns that there was more than a little truth to the tale. When he drops a 'magic bean', one of five sold to him, it instantly sprouts into a powerful beanstalk, yanking the princess (Tomlinson) skywards to the land of the giants. Jack joins the king's men - noble McGregor and the dastardly Tucci - in their quest to rescue the princess…
There's a difference in what people want from a fairy tale and what people want from a movie adaptation of said fairy tale. In short: more action, 3D and Ewan McGregor. Jack The Giant Slayer delivers on these but there's a hollowness to it. A pick-and-mix job from the best bits of Jack And The Beanstalk and Jack The Giant Killer, curiously leaving behind the stealing of gold coins and the hen that lays golden eggs, Singer's movie aims to streamline both stories into one adventure movie.
It could have been so much better. One, the backstory sounds like an infinitely superior movie. There was a war? With giants? Why aren't we watching that? Two, the backstory gives far too much away: gone is the chance of the big reveal that there isn't one giant but an army. Three, Singer seems caught in two minds all the time: there are moments of self-referential humour a la The Princess Bride (McGregor and Tucci argue about who is the hero of the story) and McGregor always seems a moment away from camping it up What-Ho style but reins it in. Shame.
Still though, there are enough jumps and bumps to entertain the 12A audience at whom this is squarely pitched.