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Jack the Giant Slayer - Blu-ray Review

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Jack the Giant Slayer - Movie Review

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4 stars

What’s big and tall and heading to theaters across the nation?  Jack the Giant Slayer and, yes, it’s every bit as fee-fi-fo-FUN as it should be.  It’s sure to anger the cynical moviegoer with its Princess Bride-esque Fairy Tale vibes.  While the dangerously wrong-headed advertisements have yet to sell the picture properly, go in expecting a flick to share with the kiddos and not a brooding re-telling of something angsty and dark and ruined by the smell of sparkling teenage funk, and you’ll probably enjoy this big-budgeted storybook adventure.  For all of its slightly stylized special effects gloss, the soul of this film has more in common with The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad or anything Ray Harryhausen applied his midas “dynamation” touch to.

Jack the Giant Slayer is every single thing Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit should have been.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment.  You decide if you want to continue reading.  But, know this, I’m not kidding.  This is fun without losing grip of its narrative, slick without touting untested technology and crafted to be purely a fantasy and not a meta-fused mythological ball buster unnecessarily divided into three parts.  It’s a bedtime story retold with no need for a snooze button or an eleven-month break.

Directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns), Jack the Giant Slayer puts the 3-D spin on the classic beanstalk fable but keeps its swashbuckling spirit alive.  The surprise on his latest film is in how much of a throwback it is to an era of fantasy we simply don’t have anymore.  Nothing is tainted by murkiness and mood.  It’s as if this film – using today’s technology – was originally filmed in 1958.  And that, dear readers, is a HUGE compliment for a film aimed at grabbing and keeping the attention of families.

The fable told is a lighthearted yarn that exists outside of the modern era.  Free of darkness and gimmicks and, in some cases, annoyances, this story of one farmboy, Jack (Nicholas Hoult), and the giants (voiced by Bill Nighy and John Kassir) that hound him has a chance to appeal far across the years and not just for one weekend.  It’s one single-minded story featuring battles in the clouds and on the ground as humans run smack dab against cabbage-headed titans of muscle.  Thankfully, it also has a satisfying conclusion that doesn’t talk down to its audience.

Featuring enjoyable performances from Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, and Ian McShane, Jack the Giant Slayer doesn’t try to out “hip” its audience with wit and snarky quips while armies are getting pummeled by rock-tossing giants.  No, they take their time and deliver lines and lines of prose – no matter how silly it is.  The cast is saddled with actual dialogue and develop their characters with a total understanding of the matinee spirit of the screenplay by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dan Studney and the vision of its director.

Beans grow.  The earth moves.  The sky opens.  And no hand-held shakiness mucks up your vision.  Singer has his go-to cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel completely harnessed to the idea of fantasy the way it used to be.  Static.  Clean.  There’s no verisimilitude; this is a sanitary production that carries its audience away from reality…not hurling towards it.  Is there any suspense?  Of course not, we know Jack will be victorious.  That’s kind of the point of telling the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk.  Its value lies in its leisure only.  And Jack the Giant Slayer is uncomplicated and victoriously entertaining.

Jack the Giant Slayer is a gift-wrapped present for audiences who like just enough of un-reality in their stories to be enjoyable.  Film is an escapist art form, after all.  It doesn’t always have to replicate the dangerous and very real world.  This is why the fantasy genre was created in the first place and Singer - brave enough to respect the genre without real world intrusions - creates a magical world where audiences are rewarded with old-school filmmaking straight from their childhood.

Temperamental fanboys and teenagers, without the attention span to complete an old school Choose Your Own Adventure book, are sure to hate it.  People expecting more than a fable will probably feel cheated.  Middle Earthians disappointed by the soulless flash and bang of Jackson’s treatment of Tolkien’s children’s book; however, will eat Jack the Giant Slayer up.  And that might be the highest compliment I can give Singer’s fantasy flick.

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Jack the Giant Slayer - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language.
Runtime:
114 mins.
Director
: Bryan Singer
Writer
: Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Nicholas Hoult; Eleanor Tomlinson; Ewan McGregor; Stanley Tucci; Ian McShane
Genre: Fantasy | Adventure
Tagline:
Prepare for a giant adventure
Memorable Movie Quote: "Who says I'm running away from anything? Maybe I'm running towards something."
Distributor:
Warner Bros. Pictures
Official Site:
jackthegiantslayer.warnerbros.com
Release Date: March 1, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.

Synopsis: An ancient war is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants.

Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom and its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend… and gets the chance to become a legend himself.

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Jack the Giant Slayer - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 18, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy (as download); DVD copy
Region Encoding: A, B

Warner's 1080p/MVC-encoded video transfer is pretty solid and adds a lot of cartoonish delight to the fairy tale happenings.  The color palette has a nice storybook quality to it.  Blacks are solid.  Depth and dark levels (as there are lots of caves) hold their shapes well.  Detail is outstanding too. You will marvel at the giants and their skin features.  Clothes have visible fibers and texture, too.  Edges are sharp enough to split hairs, textures are refined, and both contrast and delineation are both spot on.  Whether through visuals (CGI and production design in particular), music, or battle-scene aesthetics, fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy will surely notice the influence it had on the look of the film and, captured here on this marvelous transfer, it definitely shows.  Between the film's striking video transfer and ground-pounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, there's a lot to take in.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Coming off a poor reception at the box office, it will be interesting to see how Jack the Giant Slayer performs on Blu-ray and DVD. Warner Bros celebrates its release with a brief gag reel, eight minutes of deleted scenes featuring a different version of the origin story, different drawings, Jack finding a beanstalk bridge, more of the giants’ prison, and, finally, Jack gives his uncle money and his home back. There’s also an option to watch the colorful adventure with the genial Hoult as your behind-the-scenes guide. Some of the information is achieved only by completing the game feature, so be warned! You must climb to the top! The release also comes with a DVD/Digital copy of the film.

  • Become a Giant Slayer (Interactive)
  • Deleted Scenes (8 min)
  • Gag Reel (3 min)

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