Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) Bryan Singer

Production Budget: $195 million

Gross so far: $40 million

Yes, like my John Carter review I am jumping the gun with calling this a bomb.  But coincidentally, seeing as how people are already likening this to the studio crippling disaster that was John Carter, I think I am safe in my prediction.

I think the lackluster opening is at least partially to blame by the trailer.  I don’t believe I am alone in seeing the trailer complete with shit CGI and being put off.  I’m pretty sure I made audible “Ugh” by the time it was over.  You may be thinking at this point I came into this movie expecting shit and got the same.  In reality, my expectations grew a bit with the reactions coming out of it.  Sure, Jack got a 50-something percent on Rottentomatoes but some reviewers were glowing over it and audience reactions have been more favorable than overall critical reception.  I wasn’t expecting a great movie, but an entertaining movie.

The question now being bandied about is “Did we REALLY have to make a $200 million dollar movie about Jack and the Beanstalk?”  Any movie can be done it is just a matter of how well its done.  If this was a fun childrens movie that was exciting and cleverly written people wouldn’t care what the subject matter was.  Last year we had a movie about Snow White but it was done well enough that sequels are now in production.  I think I have a more relevant question which I think relates to the quality of this film.

If you are going to make a movie that is 95% CGI and 5% real things like people, then why don’t you just make a completely CGI film?

I mean, what’s the point?  Do they really think they are fooling us this this Phantom Menace level CGI dreck?  Okay my question has turned into three but they all mean the same thing.  I don’t think anyone would have a problem if Jack the Giant Slayer were an animated film.  You can make Jack in whatever style you want and the success of the movie would depend on the content of the story and characters.  Instead I am constantly being taken out of the movie because I can’t stop thinking:

That’s a green screen.

That’s a green screen.

Jack is talking to a tennis ball.

Those characters are climbing up a 6 ft tall green thing in front of a green screen.

That character is pretending to ride a horse in front of a green screen.

I’ve never seen Ian McShane more embarrassed.

Now Ewan McGregor is talking to a tennis ball.

Now the princess is in a cage surrounded by a green screen.

And so on.  In an animated movie you can immerse yourself in the world.  But when you have real people in an animated world your suspension of disbelief is being shattered all the time and it makes it so difficult to ever get into it.  None of the action did anything for me cause all I saw in my brain was someone doing combat rolls in a completely green room dodging nothing.

However even looking beyond that there is not much for me to be interested in.  The whole movie has a been there, done that sort of feel to it.  All of the characters are stock and one dimensional: Jack wants to be a knight, Isabelle wants to marry for love instead of being a princess, etc.  Now I get these characters and story come from a simple fairy tale but the trick is to build on that.  Instead Jack is a void of charisma off the rescue the cinematic equivalent of Princess Peach.  I just didn’t care and the writers don’t give much more than the most basic of motivations.

The only person who injects any kind of personality into his character is Ewan McGregor doing a more flamboyant version of his Obi Wan.  It’s not great but compared to everyone else he is Errol Flynn.  Even Stanley Tucci, who usually revels in hamming it up for these bad movies, feels so boxed in by the lackluster writing.  You have to seriously question the writing when the height of humor is a fart joke.

This movie’s target audience probably are the same children that would listen to the original story.  The stock characters would be fresh to them, the simple story won’t challenge them, and the bodily humor is right up their alley.  I think the older you get the less mileage you will get out of it.  I thought the characters were bland and uninteresting, the plot is bare bones, and the effects will take you out of the movie constantly.  I didn’t hate this movie, I was just bored by it.

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