Trailer Tuesday: Jack the Giant Slayer
Once upon a time, Jack the Giant Slayer was intended to be one of the first movies released during the Great Fairy Tale Film Deluge of 2012-2013. However, like some other big Summer blockbusters of last year - including G.I. Joe: Retaliation and fellow fairy tale flick Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Jack was unceremoniously pulled from the 2012 release schedule at the last minute and shelved until 2013 (a delay of 9 months in this case).
In that time, fairy tale films have proven to be the new video game movies. For some reason it's very difficult for filmmakers to nail what on paper seems like a sure thing - epic, action-packed fantasy adventures centring on magic and monsters. The new batch of fairy tale adaptations have mostly been "meh"... and sadly Jack the Giant Slayer looks no different. In the feature trailer above, not to mention the film's original teaser trailer, the movie just doesn't "pop" - to use a hated ad industry term. I'm in no way excited or compelled to watch the film despite the fact that it features plenty of talent in front of and behind the camera.
Shot-for-3D Jack the Giant Slayer amalgamates the Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer folk tales. Nicholas Hoult stars as the title character, a farm boy who accidentally bridges the Human and Giant Worlds via a monstrous beanstalk. Aided by a band of elite knights led by Ewan McGregor's character, Jack must summon his courage and cunning to save the rebellious princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), who is trapped in the land of the Giants. Ian McShane plays the Human World's king while - no real spoilers here - Stanley Tucci is the royal advisor who plans to use the giants to seize power. Speaking of the giants, they're motion-capture CGI-creations, with Bill Nighy and John Kassir playing their two-headed leader.
Bryan (X-Men, The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns) Singer is the man in the director's chair, and while I do generally trust in him as a filmmaker - he did after all make X2, one of my all-time favourite superhero movies - I'm still weirdly indifferent to Jack the Giant Slayer.
Critics seem to be similarly ambivalent. The film opened in the US this past weekend, and in the process earned itself an aggregated review score of 52%. In other words, reviewers are completely divided. Some have found it soulless, mechanically functional and limply scripted. Others have said its elevated by charming performances and a healthy sense of humour. Then there are those who have called it magical old school escapism with dazzling, artist-driven special effects. While in the other camp, there are those dismissing it as purely as a silly kids' film. And then there are those commentators slap-bang in the middle, insisting the film is trying to be too many things for too many audiences and, as a result, doesn't fully satisfy anyone.
So, yeah, there are a lot of contradictory opinions about this latest fairy tale flick. I'm wary of judging films by their trailers but those 2-minute previews do tend to be a handy indication of how much you'll enjoy the finished, full-length project. And, in this case, I'm not feeling much of anything.
Jack the Giant Slayer releases in South African cinemas on 20 March.