Sunday, March 17, 2013

Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

Title: Jack the Giant Slayer
Author: Warner Brothers
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating: ****
Age Group: 16+
Official Rating: PG-13
Note: I closed my eyes through much of the movie (more on that later), so if I missed anything, Maria is going to go through and add her thoughts. Her remarks will be italicized.

Summary: Jack has always loved tales of the giant's invasion of Cloister and how King Erik the Great defeated them. According to legend, monks trying to reach Heaven used gigantic beanstalks as ladders to God; instead of God, they found man-eating giants. The giants invaded Earth, and the monks turned to dark magic, using the heart of a giant to create a crown which allowed anyone who wore it to control the monsters. Enter King Erik, who sent the giants packing.
But that's just legend, even if Jack wants to believe it. So he is unsuspicious when a nervous monk hands him a bag of beans for his horse. He is unsuspecting when his uncle, angry at the meager payment that Jack brought back, throws the beans across the floor.
He is surprised when a beanstalk takes his house miles into the sky.
Unfortunately for everyone, Princess Isabel had been making a social call when the beanstalk began growing, and she is stuck up in the hut at the top of the mutant legume. Someone has to rescue her, so Jack and a handful of the king's guard volunteer. They are prepared for practically anything at this point... until they find the Land of the Giants.
The princess is captured. The giants are about to invade Cloister again. And the king's right-hand man, Roderick, who is supposed to be a good guy, ends up being bad. Everything is going wrong, but Jack is determined to make things right.


The Good: The main male characters, including Jack, the King, Elmont, and several others, show amazing courage and strength in the face of incredible danger. Jack shows great chivalry in the beginning by trying to protect Isabel's honor, though he doesn't even know her yet. He risks his life multiple times to save her and other characters as well. The King is willing to stand at the front of the battle-line to defend his subjects. He also makes the hard decision to cut down the beanstalk while his daughter is still in the Land of the Giants in order to protect his kingdom from invasion. Elmont remains behind in the Land of the Giants to get the crown back from Roderick, who is using it to control the giant army.
The king, who is still shaken from the loss of his wife, tries to protect his daughter from danger by confining her to the castle. Although this is the wrong approach, it is obvious that he means well and truly loves his daughter.
The romance between Jack and Isabel is very innocent and sweet. They kiss twice, and hold hands once.

The Bad (not listed in any particular order): Again, Jack protects Isabel's honor by standing up to a group of drunk men who are making improper remarks. The scene went by very fast, so I'm not quite sure what they were saying, but it wasn't too bad; they seemed to be focusing more on the gold bracelet that she was wearing than anything else.
More disturbing was the body count and the gore that went along with it. The giants, as I mentioned before, are man-eaters. They eat quite a few men, usually biting off their heads before discarding the rest of the body. Most of these head-chomps occur either off-screen, or far enough away so that we don't see the blood.
At one point, a giant pops a whole man into his mouth (off-screen), then spits out the man's armor.
Roderick is not above killing in order to get his way. He pushes one man off a cliff, and orders his flunky to cut a rope with 5 or 6 men on it. We later see the dead men from above.
Isabel and two of her guards are captured by giants. One is eaten, and Isabel and the other are "prepared" to be eaten by a disgusting giant-cook (who picks his nose and eats it during the process). The guard is rolled in dough and put on the fire, but escapes. Isabel whimpers and begs for mercy throughout the ordeal.
Jack is able to kill the giant-cook by stabbing a knife into his spine. It takes a while for the giant to die.
Jack, Elmont, and Isabel shove a beehive into a giant's helmet. The giant falls off the edge of the Land of the Giants, and we later see a close-up of his dead body.
Most disgusting of all is when a giant swallows a bean, and his body explodes. I did not watch this part, but Maria later explained that a close-up of the head was given, and the giant's eyeball popped out. Vines shot out of the giant's body, between both of his heads (he was the only two-headed one) and just overall being rather disgusting and horrifying. The scene closes quickly, but not before the viewer is horrified by the sight and the eyeball.
There is a battle in which many men and giants are killed. We don't see close-ups of the men, but there are several of giants being shot with arrows and engulfed in flames.
Often times men and giants go flying after being mowed down or hit by some giant object. We don't see this up close or see the injuries, but one can assume from the context that these men died.
The giants are in general a scary bunch, and have horrible personal hygiene. However, because of their appearance, the violence they suffer seems easier to endure (for the most part) because they just seem so unreal and so disgusting. Perhaps this is not a good thing as they should be looked upon as beings of creation too, though they are never portrayed as good.
There are several minor swear words, including p**s and h**l.
The presence of magic is largely unexplained, and the religion of Cloister is not expounded upon. What is explained is slightly disturbing: the monks, like the people of Babel in the Bible, decide to try and reach God with a beanstalk. When this turns out badly, they use dark magic to defeat the giants, and the products of this magic is later used to defeat them again.

My Thoughts: I covered my eyes through much of the movie because of the head-chomps (though if I saw it again, I probably wouldn't because they really weren't that bad). Maria started laughing at me because I almost screamed when a giant popped out. The one scene that I don't regret covering my eyes for, though, was the exploding-giant part, and quite frankly, I don't think I could ever muster enough courage to actually watch it.
Other than the gore, I liked the movie. It wasn't very deep; the plot was good, the acting was ok, the characters were slightly underdeveloped, and the whole movie rested on shock-factor and excitement. But you know what? That's alright, because when I go to a fairy-tale movie about giants and beanstalks, I don't really want a movie that I have to analyze and think through. I want something mind-melting and endearingly cheesy. And that's what I got. It was enjoyable to watch (for the most part), and although I wouldn't say that it's the best movie I've ever seen, I would definitely want to see it again. Just because of the gore factor, I would probably recommend this movie for the ages 16 and older.

1 comment:

grandma jane said...

You've made a good point for movies such as this in that sometimes one does just want a distraction from reality, something "...mind-melting and endearingly cheesy." I'd say a fair description of what you described. ;-)