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The UnPopular Opinion: Jack the Giant Slayer

May. 21, 2014by:

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

Bryan Singer is a very talented director. From his iconic THE USUAL SUSPECTS to thrillers like APT PUPIL and VALKYRIE, Singer has managed to bring an auteur's eye to studio projects. It was exciting when it was announced that he would be returning to direct X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and X-MEN: APOCALYPSE as he was instrumental in creating the big screen superhero movie with the first X-MEN films.  Despite some feeling SUPERMAN RETURNS was a misstep for Singer, I consider his filmography to be without flaw.  That includes last year's underappreciated fantasy adventure JACK THE GIANT SLAYER.

With the Hollywood trend of rebooting old fairy tales into grand fantasy epics all the rage these days, some stand above the rest.  JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is a movie that had the difficult task of telling an age old tale in a new way but without venturing too far from the source material.  Why the movie failed is unknown to me as it is a rousing adventure with all the elements that make studio pictures great.  And, to boot, it is an all-encompassing motion picture that can appeal to adults and children alike without alienating younger audiences.  Some of you may read that and laugh, but think back to when you were a kid and the movies that hit theaters.  Unless it was an R-rated sexual thriller, a horror movie, or a drama with profanity, most other movies were things we could watch without having our eyes covered.

Man, Aerosmith have let themselves go.

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is in the tradition of movies like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and STAR WARS.  Again, you may want to punch me through your screen, but tell me I am wrong.  You have a dashing and brash young hero in the form of Nicholas Hoult (Beast from X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST), a beautiful young princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), a powerful king (the always awesome Ian McShane), the noble knight (Ewan McGregor), and the diabolical villain (Stanley Tucci).  And that doesn't even include the giants!  With a cast like that, how can you go wrong?  All of the roles her are broad caricatures that are performed with cheeky glints by the cast.  Everyone involved here knows they aren't making a high drama, so they run with it and have fun.

Just because a movie is aimed at wide audiences doesn't mean it cannot still be fun.  Where movies like the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy or the HARRY POTTER franchise lose their viewers is due to the layers upon layers of mythology.  Fans of the books will surely enjoy digging deep into the rich histories forged by their respective authors, but general audiences may feel lost in the mix.  While both of those series are still incredibly well made and popular with all sorts of fans, they are not always the easiest to just drop into and pick up for the casual viewer.  JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is based on a classic fairy tale, one that comprises only a few pages.  But, screenwriters Darren Lemke (SHREK FOREVER AFTER, TURBO) and Christopher McQuarrie (JACK REACHER, THE USUAL SUSPECTS) manage to build an elaborate and developed world without making it impenetrable.

Chicks dig the armor.

If there is anything wrong with JACK THE GIANT SLAYER, it comes from the studio and their marketing department.  Originally set for release in 2012, Bryan Singer's film was pushed several times before landing at the beginning of March.  With little fanfare, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER was expected to sell itself to audiences without a major face in a starring role.  For a movie designed to appeal to families, the posters and trailers spent a lot of attention to the faces of the giants themselves.  Criticism of the film's special effects said the giants looked fake and unrealistic, something Bryan Singer was aiming for.  To appeal to everyone, Singer toned down the special effects, giving the giants a slighty cartoony appearance which allows for a separation from reality while still being able to go along for the ride.  Personally, I still found them quite convincing, along the lines of Michael Bay's Transformers.

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is another example of a film publically associated with an extensive budget.  Coupled with release pushes and weak marketing, many probably smelled a dud and stayed away.  But, what they missed was a movie that relishes in being just a movie and not the first chapter in a prolonged franchise.  Not designed as a first movie, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER stands alone as a fully functioning adventure movie with a beginning, middle, and a concrete end.  It also doesn't suffer from a bloated running time.  The movie is one you can pop on, enjoy, and not have to worry about queuing up the sequel for to finish the story.  This movie doesn't want to change the world but just let you enoy a skillfully made retelling of a classic tale.

Damn, they got Edward James Olmos to play a giant?  Nice!

What Bryan Singer accomplished with JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is a more successful attempt than what he tried with SUPERMAN RETURNS.  He echoes the swashbuckling adventures of old movies while embracing the wide array of technological toys at his disposal.  But, there is never a moment in JACK THE GIANT SLAYER where you are not having fun.  The movie does not need analysis or deep insight into the political subtext of the heroes and villains.  This movie is not a parable for 9/11 or an indictment of the modern economic landscape of our world.  JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is just two hours of popcorn-chomping fun.  Keep this one on your shelf alongside JOHN CARTER and THE LONE RANGER as a movie that will gain appreciation years from now.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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+0
11:52PM on 05/21/2014
I thought the movie was ok I enjoyed it and wasn't really expecting it to.
I thought the movie was ok I enjoyed it and wasn't really expecting it to.
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7:15PM on 05/21/2014
I brought this second hand from my dvd rental store.Paid $15 and not i`m not going to apologise for liking it.
I brought this second hand from my dvd rental store.Paid $15 and not i`m not going to apologise for liking it.
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2:58PM on 05/21/2014

4/10.

Entertaining action and good design of the giants. But the plot is unoriginal, the acting is weak and the characters are boring.
Entertaining action and good design of the giants. But the plot is unoriginal, the acting is weak and the characters are boring.
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12:00PM on 05/21/2014

Definitely enjoyed this one....

I don't care what anyone says.....this was a fun movie. I had a blast at the theater and have seen it several times since then and it's a solid popcorn flick. Shoddy CGI and some bad leaps in logic (plus Ewan McGregor losing pretty much every fight he's in, which is kind of embarrassing), but it doesn't try to be more than it is.

Good retelling of the classic.
I don't care what anyone says.....this was a fun movie. I had a blast at the theater and have seen it several times since then and it's a solid popcorn flick. Shoddy CGI and some bad leaps in logic (plus Ewan McGregor losing pretty much every fight he's in, which is kind of embarrassing), but it doesn't try to be more than it is.

Good retelling of the classic.
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11:23AM on 05/21/2014

Mostly Agreed

I love that you bring up the swashbuckling tales of old in regards to this movie's true intentions, as I feel that was something that was either misinterpreted or misunderstood when this film first came out. The adventure genre is my personal favorite (in all media- books, plays, movies, whatever, I love a good adventure!) and this movie is that, but it has odd tonal shifts in the beginning- it veers wildly from a more grounded approach (everything with the princess) to a more silly attitude
I love that you bring up the swashbuckling tales of old in regards to this movie's true intentions, as I feel that was something that was either misinterpreted or misunderstood when this film first came out. The adventure genre is my personal favorite (in all media- books, plays, movies, whatever, I love a good adventure!) and this movie is that, but it has odd tonal shifts in the beginning- it veers wildly from a more grounded approach (everything with the princess) to a more silly attitude (with Jack and his cunning ways) , and it takes awhile for those two tones to mesh as one coherently. Defend the cartoon-y look of the giants all you like (I believe it works, for the most part), that opening storybook sequence was poorly rendered. I also really dislike that both of our young leads are being told the story at the same time. I get the point behind it, but it never becomes a plot point, so that was frustrating. These are all minor flaws compared to the enjoyment one can derive from the overall finished film.

The movie's pacing is excellent, Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson have great chemistry, and the entire cast/ crew ably deliver a rousing yarn with some cool setpieces. Is it flawless? No, but it is better than the flop it was suggests.
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10:39AM on 05/21/2014

Great call!

My son, wife, and I had a blast in the theater with this one. That qualifies as a winner to me!
My son, wife, and I had a blast in the theater with this one. That qualifies as a winner to me!
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10:26AM on 05/21/2014
Bad bad really bad CGI and a weak lead character. Why is Hollywood putting Hoult in the lead so much is beyond me. There are far better young actors, e.g. Liam Hemsworth or Anton Yelchin.

But mainly it was the CGI. Period.
Bad bad really bad CGI and a weak lead character. Why is Hollywood putting Hoult in the lead so much is beyond me. There are far better young actors, e.g. Liam Hemsworth or Anton Yelchin.

But mainly it was the CGI. Period.
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7:16PM on 05/21/2014
Anton yes-Liam no.He gets by on his looks not acting.
Anton yes-Liam no.He gets by on his looks not acting.
9:52AM on 05/21/2014
It's a really fun movie. CGI is not the best, but the movie is much more fun than other classic tale epics in recent time (Oz, Alice).
It's a really fun movie. CGI is not the best, but the movie is much more fun than other classic tale epics in recent time (Oz, Alice).
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9:44AM on 05/21/2014
Despite some silly shoddy CGI, it's a great action adventure fantasy film. My nephew and I liked it a lot.
Despite some silly shoddy CGI, it's a great action adventure fantasy film. My nephew and I liked it a lot.
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9:11AM on 05/21/2014
I'd like to point out that John Ottman's score for the film is simply the best adventure music in a decade!
Here's a sample: [link]
I'd like to point out that John Ottman's score for the film is simply the best adventure music in a decade!
Here's a sample: [link]
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8:32AM on 05/21/2014

JGS

the mainproblem hre is the lead actor.. One of the worst actor I've seen on big screen
the mainproblem hre is the lead actor.. One of the worst actor I've seen on big screen
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8:20AM on 05/21/2014
It's an entertaining film, but it's definitely one of Singer's weaker films. Great cast though.
It's an entertaining film, but it's definitely one of Singer's weaker films. Great cast though.
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8:13AM on 05/21/2014

Good... if you're under 10 years old

I won't "rate down" just because I think this movie works for kids.
I'm not immature enough any more to find this movie worth my time. With that said, kids could do much worse.
I won't "rate down" just because I think this movie works for kids.
I'm not immature enough any more to find this movie worth my time. With that said, kids could do much worse.
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7:57AM on 05/21/2014

I liked this film

I saw it on a flight from NY to LA. I enjoyed it because it was extremely lighthearted and didn't take itself too seriously. Was it the second coming? No, and it never acted like it was. Not a bad way to pass two hours.
I saw it on a flight from NY to LA. I enjoyed it because it was extremely lighthearted and didn't take itself too seriously. Was it the second coming? No, and it never acted like it was. Not a bad way to pass two hours.
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