Jack The Giant Slayer

4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

English,  2013

Director : Bryan Singer

It had been aeons since I last watched a rollicking swashbuckling adventure. Especially one that had been cut and grown out of childhood’s fantastic fairy-tale books, which have sturdy large binding ,glossy thick pages, beautiful figures and lovely colors.So when I heard that Jack and The Giant Slayer was released and was receiving good feedback, my beanstalk was stoked. And when I received tidings that it was playing in IMAX 3D format near my lodgings, I jumped like Jack in the box.

Those amongst us who have received decent education in Western Legend, would have heard the tale of Jack and his thing which can’t be controlled.From magic seeds, a towering beanstalk sprouts far into the sky and connects to the world of crazy giants who destroy all humans they encounter. A princess is also thrown in, so that she can be rescued and some couple can live happily ever after.

That’s basically what happens in this movie. But the director, writer and visual effects crew amp up the thrill factor and ensure that we have at least half the fun that Jack the farm-boy (Nicholas Hoult) has. Eleanor Tomlinso plays the slim and pretty Princess Isabelle - we first see her in a green-’n’-gold classic medieval dress that hems in and gives swell to her wonderfully taut bosom. That the destinies of her and Jack are intertwined, is smartly hinted at the beginning when their conversations with their respective guardians are intercut in one sequence. Both the parent figures act paternalistic, while their wards aver that if left alone to their own devices, they will amount to more than a hill of beans.

Meanwhile, that beanstalk is just waiting to burst from moistened magical seeds into the sky and the Princess somehow manages to manouever herself into that point of time and space when the giant creeper lifts her unwittingly into the Land of Giants . The troubled King sends up a party of his trusted lieutenants to whose band Jack is added.

We’re shown that the only way of controlling these monsters and instantly bringing them down their knees, is to sport a special crown which has been fashioned out of a captured giant’s melted heart. We might have developed modern warfare that is much more destructive than that shown in this movie, but when it comes to damage control, we evidently can’t hold a candle to what these folks invented. The search-’n’-retrieve party contains a merrily homicidal minister Roderick who steals this crown, plans to control the Giants and then the world (his descendants are the Bond villains) It is upto the king’s trusted warrior Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and of course the leather-jacketed Jack to salvage the day.

Key scenes in the movie are captured effectively,and while the background music isn’t bad, it could have done more to add more magic. First entry into the Giants’ world is grandly shown with an undercurrent of terror- a huge stone goblin’s face gushes a waterfall onto the realms below and the camera sweeps upward from this boulder-crusted terrain which spreads out into a deceptive land of Great Grotesques. The first exposure to them is shot in rain, and this adds to the stormy fearful pulse-pounding nature of the scene. These 40 foot tall savages are clothed in rudimentary animal skins,have ogre-like faces and terrible hygiene. Fun is mixed into the shots where an old brute seeks to cook a human somewhat a la Beef Wellington. Tumbling orgiastic visual poetry is evidenced in a slow motion capture of a behemoth who jumps off a cliff into the unfurling creeper below. And there is fetching symbolism in the way a two-headed Giant discovers a ring and slips it on, not just one digit, but to encircle two fingers.

In a movie with giants in it, asking for logic is an act of human folly. Anway,one of my main quibbles was that no large prey are shown in this middle earth. A trippy hunt featuring these would have made for spectacular viewing. Even though this is a technically driven movie, the acting is good all around. Young sincere Jack is shown to be a master of all trades -be it reading books, romancing his girl or going medieval in battle.

Two-thirds of the way into this movie, I felt I’d received enough for the value of the ticket, and had to brace myself on reaching the scene where the Gargantuans realize that their onslaught can be continued. Where the momentum and interest flags is in the protracted defence of the castle entrance where parties on either side of the perimter do their best to destroy each other. It is not boring, but it does not quite reach the heights of thrilling imagination. How Jack finishes his last fight is reasonably placatory.

I usually find that the presentation of IMAX 3D format’s intro effects and the Warner Brothers logo graphics have more of a 3D wallop than anything that occurs later when the movie starts. This movie provided a fair bit of 3D kick, enhanced by the IMAX amplification . I still find that backgrounds of aerial shots are blurred and that the 3D effect rarely crops up. I never encountered a sequence wherein a Giant’s lunging hand might veer towards me. Anyway, the 3D effect’s genuine value here lies in the large sharp profiling of faces in the foreground (like Jack’s visage in the early shots), the tumultuous multi-layered shifting texture of canvas when the beanstalk powers upward in the night with Isabelle and Jack in its voluptuous tangle, and in a much later shot where the earth breaks and crumbles upward towards us when a giant breaks it to enter an inner sanctum.

Other critics have noted that there are no women giants in this movie and that due to this deficiency, we don’t get to see an all-round perspective of Giant life. I think these critcs either never took biology classes, or took and failed in them. The fact of the unshown matter is that these giants, except for their impressive size and magnificent brutality, are utterly useless creatures -so useless that they don’t deserve sex. They thus have been cursed to only have means of asexual reproduction whereby, at a certain stage in their lives, they develop a growth which rapidly separates and instantly proliferates into a full-grown ghastly adult. This explains why seeds are so enigmatic a concept to them. A quirk of irrevocable gentic mutation means that only males are produced here. The afore-mentioned processes account for why there are no delicate prospects of baby giants in this movie, nor the potentially comely world of women giants. Lack of their female species also explains why they are continually angry and frustrated. They may even have forgotten the reason for this, which is why when Princess Isabelle lands in their world, they can only think of eating her. All this is never shown in the movie, you have to deduce it by your own intelligence.

In movies which have larger-than-life action, ladies rarely get to cast a spell. But in the fantabulous Watchmen ,I had no such complaints. In this one, Eleanour Tomlinson is good, no doubt ,in protraying a sweet lass and spunky noble princess. But the fact that the movie’s producers wanted more cash and thus kept the movie at a relatively innocent PG-13 rating level, means that we have been deprived of some real carnal zip which could have added another dimension to this tale of enormous appetites.

Director Bryan Singer's name does not set my pulse racing - I found his much vaunted 'The Usual Suspects' to be curiously spineless, discovered no super-thrill in his 'Superman Returns', but with this film he provides adequate bang for buck. It might not haunt you long after you have seen it,but in the theatre, especially.

UPN world welcomes your comments !!!