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Jack the Giant Slayer(2013)
An ancient war is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack, into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom and its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend… and gets the chance to become a legend himself.
For more about Jack the Giant Slayer and the Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray release, see Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 15, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor
Director: Bryan Singer
» See full cast & crew
Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray Review
Fee Fi Fo Fum! I smell the blood of...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 15, 2013
A surprisingly functional, dare I say entertaining adventure? Bryan Singer loyalists will have to pardon the question mark. I'm sure you never had a doubt. But as the earliest teaser trailers arrived, as Warner Bros. quickly scrambled to combat lagging interest driven by those very trailers, and as more trailers arrived, the fate of Jack the Giant Killer, soon delayed and retitled Jack the Giant Slayer, grew more and more uncertain. Even the film's bloated production budget, an ill-advised $200 million, raises at least one serious question: did the wizards at Warner ever really believe an adaptation of "Jack and the Beanstalk," no matter how brilliant or larger than life, would be the studio's next big billion-dollar tentpole? Jack and the Giant Killer may be functional and unexpectedly entertaining, even larger than life. But it falls far too short of brilliance and tumbles shy of greatness. If I didn't have an enthusiastic eight-year-old at my side, I can't say it wouldn't have plummeted farther. Still, Singer pulls off more than I thought possible, and the film is more clever than it might have been in the hands of another director. And while that sounds like the faintest of praise, it matters a good deal, particularly considering how disastrously wrong it all could have gone.
When a fugitive monk gives eighteen-year-old farm boy Jack (Nicholas Hoult) a bag of ancient beans in exchange for a horse, Jack thinks little of his prize... until, that is, one of the beans slips beneath the floorboards of his cottage, gets wet and sprouts an enormous beanstalk. Further complicating this strange turn of events is runaway princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who was seeking shelter when the beanstalk lifted Jack's house high into the heavens, taking her right along with it. Soon Jack volunteers to join the kingdom's finest -- chief advisor to King Brahmwell (Ian McShane), Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci); captain of the King's guard Elmont (Ewan McGregor); hardened swordsman Crawe (Eddie Marsan); and Roderick's right-hand man, Wicke (Ewen Bremner) -- on a mission to rescue the princess. But Jack encounters more than he bargained for atop the beanstalk: a floating land of vindictive, man-eating giants led by a fearsome two-headed warrior named Fallon (Bill Nighy and John Kassir), a traitor (or two) in the King's ranks, and a war that's been brewing for more than a thousand years.
Jack the Giant Slayer may be clever, but it isn't quite as clever as it thinks it is. Had Singer and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney pressed the advantage and pushed into Princess Bride territory, Jack's adventure might have slayed anything in its path. Instead, the trio settle for something closer to Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm, with a on-again, off-again wit that's, at its best, wry, dry and peripherally British, and, at its worst, juvenille and forcibly jovial. McGregor, Tucci, Bremner and McShane seem to be having a great deal of fun, and also seem to know exactly what sort of film Jack and the Giant Slayer needs to be to rise above the genre squalor. Hoult and Tomlinson, on the other hand, are earnest enough, but lack the spark of their more colorful supporting players. Theirs is the most central story, and yet the most joyless and unengaging. The giants, meanwhile, are a ragtag band of bumbling cartoon characters; a scratching, sniffling, farting bodily-function-joke delivery system akin to Peter Jackson's nose-spelunking trolls in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Only Nighy's Fallon (a monstrous general unfortunately saddled with a second head straight out of a Looney Tunes short) successfully bucks the trend; minus the first giant Hoult and McGregor encounter, a sullen eyed trapper that captures one of Jack's comrades with such speed and eerie ferocity that for a moment -- a wonderful, frightening moment -- the giants are genuinely terrifying.
None of that makes Jack the Giant Slayer a bad film, though. Just one that doesn't live up to its potential. Singer's anointed cast is perfectly suited to the heroes and villains as written and envisioned, and the production is brimming with creative touches and smart design choices that go beyond the standard modernized fairy tale fare. What the giants lack in character they make up for in grassy, tree-knot skin, tangled hair, diseased eyes, flayed metal armor, craggy feet and intimidating size. Scale is clearly a fundamental factor, and Singer sidesteps slow and lumbering in favor of making his giants a feasible world-ending force to be reckoned with and his humans, every one without exception, fragile and inadequate. The Kingdom of Cloister and its denizens boast a tongue-in-cheek craftiness too, with some of those too infrequent Princess Bride flourishes I found myself savoring. (Especially McShane and McGregor. I'll take a sequel starring the King and his Captain, if you don't mind.) Hit or miss as the dialogue is, the story itself has enough twists, turns and reinventive flair to avoid predictable pitfalls. Even when the script travels familiar roads, it does so with enough heart, humor and good will to redeem its occasional humdrummery. Ah well. You could certainly do worse than Jack the Giant Slayer. I just suspect Singer could have done better.
Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray, Video Quality
There's no disappointment to be had with Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer, forgoing quibbles with the film's digital sheen, at-times cartoonish CG, or poorly conceived opening animation (which, no exaggeration, looks as if it were yanked out of the mid-90s). Newton Thomas Sigel's stormy storybook palette is beautiful and evocative, with hearth-fire colors, rich primaries, lovely fleshtones and deep, cavernous blacks. Detail is outstanding too. Edges are sharp enough to split hairs, textures are refined, and both contrast and delineation are spot on. Take note of every last crack and crook in a giant's skin, the burning debris spilling off a breached castle wall, the leaves of a burning tree being hurled at a closing gate, the slight imperfections in the King's armor, strands of spilled hair that fall across Tomlinson's face, the shark-fin curls in McGregor's pompadour, the stitching in Jack's peasant hoodie... most every element of the image receives the same exacting treatment. Better still, significant artifacting, banding, noise, ringing and aliasing are nowhere to be found, and crush is kept to the barest of minimums.
Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray, Audio Quality
It's big! It's loud! It's fun! It's Jack the Giant Slayer's booooming, thooooming, dooooming DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and it doesn't miss a single chance to remind filmfans Jack and his friends are facing creatures a hundred times their size. Between cracking thunder, surging water, earth-splitting beanstalks, ground-shaking footfalls, guttural battle cries, splintering trees, toppling castle walls and the roar of the Gantua war machine, LFE output goes beyond aggressive, throwing its weight behind just about anything associated with mankind's greatest foes. The rear speakers don't shy away from the fight either, creating equally immersive (but wholly different) soundfields for the Kingdom of Cloister and the Land of Gantua, using pinpoint directionality to great effect. Arrows whip from one channel to the next, attacking hordes surround the listener, and convincing ambience, however subtle or larger than life, is at play at all times. Dialogue remains crisp and clear throughout as well, never succumbing to the power and presence of the film's soundscape and music. Everything fits neatly into place, thanks to terrific prioritization and impeccable mixing. Regardless of how you respond to the movie itself, it's tough to ignore the lossless monstrosity it unleashes on anyone within earshot.
Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Jack the Giant Slayer never looms as large as it should, but Singer and his impressive cast don't flinch for a second. The results are flawed but everyone involved commits wholeheartedly, and that goes a long way toward making Jack the fairly enjoyable fairy tale it is. Warner's Blu-ray release is a good deal better, although its rather anemic supplemental package is a letdown. No matter. Between the film's striking video presentation and ground-pounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, there's a lot to love, regardless of whether or not the movie itself leaves much of a mark.
Jack the Giant Slayer: Other Editions
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Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, June 17-23: Jack the Giant Slayer Journeys to Numb... - June 27, 2013
For the week that ended on June 23rd, Warner Bros' Jack the Giant Slayer took the number one spot on the Blu-ray-only and overall media rankings. Director Bryan Singer's adventure was considered a disappointment after its theatrical release last March. The film, ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: June 18-25 (Updated) - June 16, 2013
For the week of June 18th, Warner Home Entertainment is bringing Jack the Giant Slayer to Blu-ray. Director Bryan Singer's adventure-fantasy is winning, with a sense of derring-do inspired by The Adventures of Robin Hood. Other releases include Criterion's great ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Jack the Giant Slayer - June 15, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a Blu-ray copy of director Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer, which stars Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian Mcshane, Bill Nighy and Ewan Mcgregor. ...
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