Nice outfits, via IMDB
By ALEX ALVAREZ
Hey, teenagers and young adults who are really into fairy tales, it is a fantastic time to be you. Even if you’re not terribly into vampires, werewolves, or witches, you still have updated, appropriately violent (Grimm’s Fairy Tales? Hella disembowelments.) takes on time-honored tales like Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel and, now, Jack and the Beanstalk. In 3D!
The film fleshes out the familiar “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Jack the Giant Killer
” tales, adding a few twists. Jack (Nicholas Hoult
) lives with his uncle after his beloved, storytelling father dies of the plague (dead parents = hero), and is told to sell the family horse. Jack fails royally, of course, and gives the horse to a monk in exchange for some surprisingly large beans. “Don’t get them wet!” the monk warns.
Also in the mix is a beautiful princess, Isabelle, (the very good Eleanor Tomlinson
, who looks exactly like a cross between Claire Forlani and Bryce Dallas Howard) who has lost her beloved, storytelling mother (dead parent = heroine) and is betrothed to Stanley Tucci, which doesn’t seem that bad, except that he’s evil and has terrible hair. Isabelle loves to sneak out of the castle to seek adventure, particularly on nights both dark and stormy.
Jack’s uncle, enraged that his 18-year-old nephew (who, historically, should probably have been married with four kids and a collapsed lung by that age), tosses the beans to the floor. One rolls beneath the floorboards. Eek!
Jack mopes around his cottage, when who should appear, but Isabelle! They bond over the fact that their dead parents would read the same folk tale about a race of man-eating giants banished by Isabelle’s ancestor, Eric the Great. Meanwhile, an unnecessary cat with X-ray vision watches as the rain water down from the holes in the cottage’s roof and down into the floorboards.
What worked: Jack and Isabelle — joined by Isabelle’s personal guardian, Ewan McGregor (who, curiously, sports up-and-coming-LA-actor hair throughout) — made for competent, capable heroes. Unlike so many movie heroes who seem to escape danger by sheer luck, these three are resourceful, smart, and brave. Isabelle is a damsel in distress, sure, but she’s also independent and savvy, knowing to mark trees with her initials in order to find her way back. Gretel.
The movie’s other big stars, the giants, though computer-animated, all featured unique looks with lots of attention to skin, hair, and clothing texture. As a bonus, they were all delightfully, gleefully disgusting. Of particular note is the giant’s leader, who boasts both an incredible accent and one-and-a-half heads. He also looks exactly like one of the monks (watch for it).
What didn’t: While 3D movies don’t inspire the same level of awe (or gimmickry) they did 10, 15 years ago, it’s still a medium that allows for something more than simply adding depth to a scene. Here, we have a film where giants literally tumble from the sky, yet doesn’t show this in a way that renders it different from a standard film. For example: There is a scene where a giant cook is preparing Ewan McGregor’s character for a feast, dousing him in flour and wrapping him in dough alongside two, whole, (temporarily) live pigs-in-blankets. All the while, the cook is picking and consuming the contents of his nose. It’s disgusting, it’s fantastic, and it would have been even more of both had it better utilized the opportunities afforded when a cook with a cold finds himself in the company of lots and lots of flour.
In addition, while the audience learns a lot about the giants’ folk tale (the whole town is obsessed with it), we don’t learn too much about the giants themselves. What do their homes look like? How is it that they “acquired a taste for acquisition” from humans, and why don’t they do anything with all the loot they stole? All their animals were stolen from men — do they not have any native, giant-sized animals of their own? How cool would a freaking giant bee be? And how do these giants procreate given there are no lady-giants or baby-giants in this heavenly paradise?
Who should see it: Not entirely sure about this. This is a PG-13 film about a fairly straightforward children’s tale that includes fairly harrowing depictions of violence and murder, and there is one [SPOILER] scene where a certain someone is literally torn to pieces by a beanstalk as he cries “ohhh, fu…”[END SPOILER]
So. Teens? Young adults? People who think the three dreamy leads are dreamy?
Who should avoid it: The woman seated next to me during the screening, who should never be allowed in a movie theater ever again. A quote from the evening: “Is that a giant?”
Vitals: PG-13, starring Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci. Directed by Bryan Singer.
Out March 1st.
Scale of 0 - 5. Jose Canseco = Guilty pleasureness. Jennifer Lawrence = Greatness. Dude from Troll 2 = Awfulness.
.5 Troll 2 dudes