Movie review – A gigantic adventure

2013-03-24 10:00

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Film: Jack the Giant Slayer (Nu Metro)

Director: Bryan Singer

Featuring: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Eleanor Tomlinson

Rating: 7/10

I found Tim Burton’s recent remake of the timeless Lewis Carroll tale Alice in Wonderland highly disappointing.

While that story certainly has its dark elements, he turned it into a bleak and joyless ramble. He had also tossed in a politically correct feminism angle, which felt gratingly contrived.

It was with trepidation, therefore, that I approached this contemp-orary take on a children’s favourite – and the grim poster did little to allay my fears.

What a surprise then to encounter an exciting, light-hearted romp, blessed with a good script, eye-filling visuals and cackleworthy dialogue.

The up-and-coming Nicholas Hoult, currently seen in the quirky zombie romance Warm Bodies, takes the lead role of Jack, who naively accepts a few “magic beans” in exchange for his old uncle’s horse.

As those of us familiar with the bedtime story will recall, the beans are actually seeds for an ultrafast-growing beanstalk that connects our planet with a wicked giant’s home.

In this movie version, the lone giant has been upgraded to a whole tribe of hulking beasts and the big villain’s home is now a planet of the buggers.

The largely British cast features Eleanor Tomlinson as a princess with whom Jack experiences zing at first sight and Ewan McGregor as a soldier who’s also holding a candle for the princess’ affections. Ian McShane, who should belong to the Hall of Fame of British movie villains, plays the king.

Despite a benevolent core, he puts his foot down and insists that his daughter marry Roderick, whom he understands to be honourable son-in-law material. This outwardly loyal royal servant (played by the lone American of the piece, Stanley Tucci) is, however, a vindictive, manipulate piece of work. It took me a while to identify Tucci, as his usually shiny dome is quite amply thatched this time around.

The spectacular visuals whisk us off to a land of fantasy and the 3-D version is crisp, technically sound and immersive.

While I’m certainly not prejudiced against Americans, it was a rare treat to witness a spectacular fantasy movie boasting Brit accents.

The film’s director, Bryan Singer, who’s churned out an unremarkable array of X-Men movies in recent years, has marshalled the talents of an A-grade list of writers, thespians and technicians to provide us with a rollicking, family-friendly matinee movie.

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