Film Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER

Jack the Giant Slayer is an entertaining family adventure. Although it does not reinvent the wheel, Bryan Singer’s film does the job of creating an enjoyable viewing experience.

As a young boy, Jack is told about the war between humans and giants, which was won by Erik the Great. As an adult, Jack unwittingly opens a gateway between Earth and the world of the giants…

Based on the well-known fairy tale, Jack the Giant Slayer is a formulaic film. But this does not mean that it isn’t entertaining. Director Bryan Singer does a good job of balancing the elements of adventure; action, quest, peril, consequence, as well as some romance thrown in.

Jack the Giant Slayer follows in the footsteps of the recent Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters in making a familiar fairy tale into an action-heavy adventure. Singer’s film works better however, as it clearly knows the audience it is aimed at. The plot and level of action clearly aim to appeal to a family audience.

Jack is a likeable protagonist. He is confident without being arrogant and modest without being wet. It is a shame that the princess is so passive, especially in comparison to Jack. In this sense, the film harks back to old fairy tales. The princess and the pauper theme really emphasises the class aspect. Jack cannot win her hand without rescuing her; he is not worthy on his own merits. Jack the Giant Slayer is quite old fashioned on both these counts.

Production design is solid. The film makes the most of its lush landscapes, and 3D is utilised well. Nicholas Hoult makes a good unassuming hero. Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci appear to be having fun in their respective roles.

Jack the Giant Slayer is a fun romp which will satisfy most viewers.

 

Film Review: Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters

Hansel and Gretal: Witch HuntersHansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters is a watchable action fantasy, even if it veers on the trashy side.  The film seems to be aiming for two different things and does not sit comfortably in either aspect as a result.

Having been lured to a candy-filled house as children, Hansel and Gretal manage to kill the witch who has imprisoned them. As adults, the brother and sister become bounty hunters who track down and kill witches. The pair are brought to a small village to find the culprit who has been kidnapping children…

Writer and director Tommy Wirkola attempts to inject new life into the Hansel and Gretal fairy tale. He does this by making them  witch hunters and action stars. It is not dissimilar to last year’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. The children of the fairy tale have grown up and donned powerful weapons which they sling over their leather-clad shoulders.

The narrative of Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters is not exactly illuminating, but the pacing is good. The film features several archetypes of the fantasy genre, including the unrelenting villain, the ambiguous helper and the devoted love interest. The protagonists lack depth, but then the focus is on the action.

Wirkola’s film is strange in that it is period set, yet Hansel and Gretal appear overtly modern. They speak with American accents (unlike most of the cast who boast a Germanic lilt) and use conspicuously profane language. The accents are a little distracting and feed into the idea that the film is not certain of what it is aiming for. In its updating of a fairy tale it allows comparisons to Red Riding Hood, yet the language and violence suggest it is aimed at an older audience. However, it seems that the film would have had more appeal to a less mature audience.

The film features some very visceral deaths. Despite an abundance of gore, the CGI effects mean it never appears too authentic. The use of 3D is fine; it is not too distracting or gimmicky. The music is sometimes too abrupt, taking viewers out of certain scenes. The performances are adequate, with Jeremy Renner seeming to not take things too seriously. There is some humour, whilst the dialogue can be hokey.

Coming in at 88 minutes, Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters may not quite be successful, but never feels like a chore.

Stuff To Look At

Plenty of stuff this week; a new Oz The Great and Powerful poster, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters trailer, something from Stoker and more…

Trouble With the Curve

Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, Trouble With the Curve is a drama about a baseball scout. After Clint Eastwood films received a mixed reception at best, it will be a relief to some that he is not directing this one. Trouble With the Curve is out in cinemas on 30th November 2012.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel and Gretel was always a disturbing fairy tale, so it is really no surprise that the filmmakers have chosen to go down the violent fantasy route with this cinematic adaptation. Starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arteton, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters looks like a lot of fun. The film is released in the UK on 15th March 2013.

Oz The Great and Powerful

This week the first poster for Oz The Great and Powerful was released. Directed by Sam Raimi, the film stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. Disney’s last foray into Oz territory was the cult classic Return to Oz, so it will be interesting to see what this new film brings. Oz The Great and Powerful is due for release in March 2013.

Stoker

This is not a trailer for Stoker, but a video that depicts the creation of the poster, along with clips from the film. I’m not entirely sure what Stoker is, but I am interested to find out more. Starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska, Stoker will be released on 1st March 2013.

A Good Day to Die Hard

John McClane is back for another adventure in A Good Day to Die Hard. The last instalment did not quite match the much-loved earlier trilogy, so it will be interesting to see how this one does. Bruce Willis returns as McClane on 14th February 2013.

Django Unchained

Above is the latest trailer for Django Unchained. The trailer has director Quentin Tarantino’s stamp all over it. Starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained is released in UK cinemas on 18th January 2013.