Review: When one reads the title Jack The Giant Slayer, one can easily presume much to his discomfort that here comes a movie that belongs to the run-of-the-mill genre of sci-fi or fantasy films. Well, the good news is that this presumption is aptly correct and this film indeed belongs to the much common folklore we have grown up listening to – the classic tale of an ordinary young boy who fights the evil forces (here saving a beautiful princess from the claws of giants) and finally defeats them thus achieving the status of a Hero.
The conventional arc of the story at first makes us feel that familiarity of the theme is not going to work, but wait for the story to unravel on screen and this mythical legend starts working with the audience. The ‘David and Goliath’ element of the tale instantly connects with the viewer, much of which is credited to the fresh rendition of the characters and addition of the contemporary lore to the myth. This latest Warner Bros. offering is a wholly enjoyable experience and a nice family film. Director Bryan Singer (of The Usual Suspects and X-men fame) understands the dramatic arc of the this tale in a much nuanced fashion and skilfully captures the essential emotional aspect of the story which might appear deceptively simple on the surface but is certainly capable of yielding an effect; fantastic and a dynamic potential.
The story is a similar tale of Good Vs. Evil, only this time in a distant backdrop of medieval England. It clearly tells us about our love for the heroes and our need to overcome our fears in order to become one. This aspiration of mankind is here personified by Jack (played by Nicholas Hoult), an innocent youth on the cusp of manhood who undergoes various trials and tribulations of the nature existing only in tales and ultimately becomes a legend himself. This central theme works as the binding thread, a sort of emotional periphery around which all the characters are sketched upon. By no means it implies that other characters are redundant in the film, on the contrary, they come with a life of their own; for instance, the brave knight (played by Ewan McGregor) to whom responsibility is paramount and the princess (played by Eleanor Tomlinson) who feels trapped in the enclosed walls of the palace constantly expressing her utter discomfort caused due to her royal identity (specifically the restrictions).
Obviously, this is a film made on a big canvas with the director (Bryan Singer) once again collaborating with the writer (Christopher McQuarrie as a co-writer) and director of photography (Newton Thomas Siegel) of his debut feature, The Usual Suspects. When we talk of a film made in 3D; the equation shared by the director, the actor and the director of photography undeniably renders an added connotation of collaborative filmmaking as they all are dealing with a technology which is still relatively new to cinema. With the use of latest techniques such as ‘performance capture’ and Simul-cam (originally developed for ‘Avatar’) special effects and visual effects are of high standards.
On the downside, the story and narrative although entertaining to the family audience still lacks in originality and subtlety of filmmaking. Add up the performances of the actors which are fairly good, makes this film another visual treat from the Warner Bros. Studio and doesn’t express the art of cinema in a way which really pushes the boundaries of creativity when it comes to the comprehension of cinema as an independent art form.
As someone once said “Art is the realized experience of our life”, Jack The Giant Slayer fairly stops at the ascending boundary of this realm and will find its place in the category only deserving enough of being called as a nice ‘feel-good movie’. In the end, what remains to be examined is the fact that in these times, when cinema has incorporated 3D as an important element of filmmaking, the equation between 3D technology and the art of cinema is yet to be potently figured out by film-makers and audience alike. For now, the answer lies only in the future.