"Jack and the Beanstalk" gets the Hollywood treatment in the new fantasy-action-adventure flick "Jack and the Giant Slayer". Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following review for NY1.
The current wave of action-fantasy-adventure films derive from a great many different sources: classic fairy tales, Tolkien novels, an engaging piece of kitsch like 1981’s "Clash of the Titans". Yet somehow, these movies all seem to take place in the same glossy, digital, generically medieval storybook mud kingdom, with the same battles and monsters. They offer intermittently fun and frenetic creature-feature eye candy and, too often, not much else.
In "Jack the Giant Slayer", which could have been called "Jack the Huntsman Meets Clash of the Rings", a beanstalk bursts out of the ground, and it’s fairly cool to look at, with gnarly vines that twist around each other and shoot into the air like a vertical forest.
The beanstalk leads to a towering cliff in the clouds, where a tribe of giants has taken Princess Isabelle prisoner. Who will save her? You guessed it: a fellowship of the noble-hearted.
Once they climb the beanstalk, we meet the giants, who are a mangy set of Cockney trolls. They’re a lot like the trolls in "The Hobbit", though in this case, the motion-capture effects are even more visually crafty and individualized. The giants are a kick to watch, but when they talk, they might as well be British soccer hooligans at a pub. Any feeling of horrific wonder fades fast.
As Jack, the young tenant farmer who’s in love with the princess, Nicholas Hoult is all grown up from "About a Boy", but he doesn’t exactly tingle with romantic energy. I kept wondering why the agelessly appealing Ewan McGregor was standing off to the sidelines. He has the snap and the valor the film needed at its center.
Once everyone comes down from the beanstalk, the film seems to be over. Fear not: There are still 30 minutes of battle spectacle to go. This is how a fairy-tale movie gives us our money’s worth today, even if once upon a time, it was called overkill.