The film's fatal mistake? Perhaps it was director Bryan Singer embracing the 19th-century nature of the story as tightly as he did Richard Donners Superman: The Movie for his own Superman Returns. These days, to satisfy family audiences, it's evidently not enough to revive an old-fashioned tale; you have to hip it up with nods to contemporary influences, even if the setting stays put.
Give Singer credit for trying, although one could argue he tries too hard an argument backed up by a running time too long by a half-hour. He could have just left it at Jack (Nicholas Hoult, Warm Bodies), the beanstalk and a giant. Instead, he gives viewers multiple giants, one of which sports an extra head, while others burp and fart.
We also get a beautiful princess-in-peril (Eleanor Tomlinson, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland) who's also a sister doing it for herself, golden breast-plated armor and all; an air of needless extravagance; Stanley Tucci hamming it up as he did in The Hunger Games; Ewan McGregor (Haywire) enjoying a role as swashbuckler; and excellent computer-generated effects that overwhelm everything else, as is their wont.
But worst of all, it just feels endless. As a result, any goodwill you may have for Jack the Giant Slayer slowly but surely leaks as it plods along. Warner Home Video's Blu-ray includes a brief gag reel, eight minutes of deleted scenes, and an option to watch the colorful adventure with the genial Hoult as your behind-the-scenes guide. My option, in hindsight, would be to rewatch Abbott & Costello's comedy-musical take on Jack and the Beanstalk of 1952. It proves one need not spend hundreds of millions to turn such a simple story into big fun. Rod Lott
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