Bryan Singer is the latest director to try his hand at the current "it" trend of turning simplistic fairy tales into Peter Jackson-style fantasies full of risky, PG-13 violence and epic scope. Typically, these adaptations are soulless shells of their former selves with too much emphasis on action and spectacle and not enough attention telling a compelling story with enjoyable characters. Jack the Giant Slayer is yet another entry that gets by doing just enough to be adequate but never enough to be anything other than forgettable. It doesn't help that the movie is often too violent for kids and too dumb for adults, creating a tonal nightmare for the audience.
Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a poor farm boy who just wants to sell his horse for some coins but instead gets ripped off with some beans. But these are no ordinary beans; when wet they grow to become a sort of gateway to a land beyond the clouds filled with fearsome giants. When a beautiful princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), her villainous fiancé (Stanley Tucci), and a valiant knight (Ewan McGregor) get involved, Jack must find the courage to save the princess, defeat the bad guys, and save the day. You've seen this story time and time again.
The problem is there's simply nothing new brought to the table. It's a fine looking movie full of beautiful imagery through a combination of CGI and real locations but the whole thing feels lazy. From the script to the performances, everyone seems to be putting in the minimum effort required to get their paycheck and call it a day. Once our heroes get up the beanstalk and into the giant realm, there's an attempt at some inventive sequences that are usually bookended with horribly cliché dialogue and one-liners that even children will find cringe-worthy.
I'd like to know just who Jack the Giant Slayer is made for. It's too dark and murderous for children and too foolish and silly for adults. The result is a lack of cohesion between the scenes, causing drastic tonal shifts and wildly ridiculous characters that are eaten and dying constantly. The film never finds it's footing and slowly devolves into yet another fairytale-inspired Lord of the Rings clone. The film isn't bad, but considering the talent involved, Jack the Giant Slayer should be better than it is. Instead, we get a passable family adventure with no real personality or aspirations other than to simply exist.