Jack the Giant Slayer is based on Jack and the Beanstalk. The story has been popular movie fodder since 1902. Feature-length versions have been fantasies that often mix other legends into the story. Abbot and Costello and The Three Stooges have done interpretations, and animators from Hanna Barbera to Disney and Warner Brothers have also gotten into the act.
Hollywood regularly churns out new versions. Most are for TV or go straight to DVD.
Here's the new twist. Instead of a single giant from the fairytale, Jack the Giant Slayer has an army of them. There was a war between giants living somewhere high in the atmosphere and humans when a beanstalk connected the two worlds. A heroic king made a magic crown that controls the giants. He sent them on their way and cut down the beanstalk.
The king's crown and magic beanstalk-making beans are buried with him. A couple hundred years later, an evil adviser to the current king robs the grave and plans on conquering the kingdom, then the world.
Enter Jack. His uncle sends him to the local castle to sell the horse and cart. The cart is stolen and a monk who took the magic beans away from the evil adviser swaps the beans for the horse so he can escape.
In there somewhere, Jack meets the princess who is betrothed to the evil adviser. Not wanting to go there, she flees and ends up at Jack's. While there, the beans get wet, and off the princess and Jack go on a grand adventure battling the army of giants.
Jack the Giant Slayer comes in 3D or traditional 2D, and is done by X-Men director Bryan Singer. Some of the action sequences are pretty good, and Singer does a wonderful job of depicting a kingdom of giants in the clouds.
What Jack the Giant Slayer isn't, is fee, fi, fo, fun. The movie is missing a sense of humor.
Actors Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies), Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci do their lines tongue-in-cheek, but a paint-by-numbers script and story that's splattered all over the place doesn't give them, and the others of a great cast, much room to enjoy the joy of enhancing one of the all-time great fairytales.
Jack and the Beanstalk is a favorite bedtime story. While I personally liked the movie, for some Jack the Giant Slayer may induce slumber of a different kind.
Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.