Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Video review: "Jack the Giant Slayer"

Poor Nicholas Hoult. The young actor has the dis-privilege of starring in two of the year’s most underrated films.

First was the whimsical horror-romance “Warm Bodies,” which didn’t cause too much of a ruckus at the box office. And then came “Jack the Giant Slayer,” an action-heavy take on the classic beanstalk tale that bombed, despite lavish production values and a budget approaching $200 million.

It’s a shame, because “Jack” stands much taller as a piece of pure entertainment than similar movies like “Oz the Great and Powerful” or “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.”

Hoult plays Jack, a humble farm boy whose life goes on a wild ride after the magic beanstalk carries the beautiful princess into the clouds. It seems the giants were banished there eons ago by the humans, and their two-headed king has half a mind to seek his heaven on earth.

Stanley Tucci, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor and Ian McShane nicely fill out the cast as, respectively, the villain, the princess, the dashing knight and the gruff king.

But the real stars are the computer-generated giants – great, hairy burping beasts whose brutish manners and seeming lack of a feminine gender make their abode seem like the ultimate oversized frat house.

Director Bryan Singer, a veteran of the “X-Men” films, keeps the mood light and the action scenes coming at a furious pace. A great many men and animals get squished underfoot by the less-than-graceful giants, and the CGI captures the mayhem in all its glory.

“Jack the Giant Slayer” is a fun, goofy, giddy ride that never dares to take itself too seriously.

Unfortunately, the film’s lackluster performance in theaters may have contributed to a paucity of goodies for the video release. The DVD comes with a few deleted scenes and a gag reel. Upgrading to Blu-ray adds the “Become a Giant Slayer” interactive feature, and that’s it.

Too bad they didn’t go big for the video rollout.



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