Snow White, Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel have all had a crack, and now it's Jack's turn. The classic fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, has been re-imagined as an action-packed and special-effects-driven adventure that will appeal to kids today, especially boys.
The men behind this particular fairy tale revival are Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-Men movies and produced the X-Men: First Class prequel, and one of the stars of X-Men: First Class, Nicholas Hoult, who takes on hero duties again in Jack the Giant Slayer. The film uses the same basic premise as the fairy tale that inspired it, but with a touch of romance thrown into the mix. It's the story of boy meets girl, boy spills magic beans, beans grow miles high to a land inhabited by man-eating giants, girl is captured by giants and boy rescues girl.
The girl in question is the adventurous and spirited Princess Isabella, played by Eleanor Tomlinson (Alice in Wonderland).
Hoult and Tomlinson are very sweet together, although it's a tough gig for Jack as he tries to prove that a poor farm boy can become a hero.
Having the most fun are Ewan McGregor, who plays Isabelle's bodyguard, and Stanley Tucci, who plays her evil fiance. They have the best struts and get the best lines.
Of note to Kiwis will be the late addition of a new opening scene shot by Singer in New Zealand. Locals Tim Foley and Tandi Wright do a nice job playing Jack's father and Isabella's mother, setting up the idea that these curious children are destined to cross paths.
Singer is familiar with large-scale effects and action sequences and sets the bar high. He filmed in 3D and used the latest motion and facial capture performance technology to blend his giants into the live action sequences and actual locations. The giant-to-human size ratio is impressive and the medieval English setting is quite magical.
If you like action, find the thought of ugly and nose-picking giants appealing, and like your blockbusters filled with characters who deliver their lines with a twinkle in their eye, then you can't go past Jack the Giant Slayer for good-looking, simple fun.
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor
Director: Bryan Singer
Running time: 114 mins
Rating: M (fantasy violence)
Verdict: Fairy tale delivered with a twinkle in the eye