By T.M. Powell

Bryan Singer made a splash on the scene with his classic crime thriller The Usual Suspects. He followed that up by igniting the comic book cinema explosion with X-Men and X2: X-Men United. Singer was the next big director. Then he left the X-Men franchise to do Superman Returns and we all know how that one worked out. Singer’s decision wrecked two film franchises in the process and his career has never quite recovered. This week Singer will try to regain his magic beans with Jack the Giant Slayer.

Jack the Giant Slayer is the story we were all told as children. The opening sequence shows a young Jack being told the familiar tale of giants, myths and magic beans. The film’s prologue is excellent, but is a perfect example of Jack the Giant Slayer’s problem as a film. After the opening sequence the film slows down while introducing us to orphaned Jack (Nicholas Hoult) and Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) who inevitably gets taken by the giants who live in the land high above the magic beanstalk. The action does pick back up as Jack and Elmont (Ewan McGregor) scale the beanstalk, but slows once again until after the giants introduction.

Another negative in Jack the Giant Slayer is the use of the villains both giant and human. There are times when the CG giants look scary and vile and other instances when they look like a drawing in a kid’s coloring book. The giant General Fallon could have been a great villain, but he is saddled with a silly conjoined twin on his shoulder. The second head is a goofy sidekick that does not work on any level and completely ruined the character for me. If it was up to me, I would have had the much more intimidating Fumm as the giant leader through out the film.

The human villains are mismanaged as well. I thought Stanley Tucci was a scene stealer as the scheming Roderick. We all knew Tucci was a great actor, but he held his own with the action and swordplay in the villain role. I was impressed with Tucci, but unfortunately his character is mostly irrelevant at the end of the film. It’s too bad they couldn’t find a better way to use Tucci’s Roderick.

Jack the Giant Slayer may have its share of lows, but it’s not all bad. Nicholas Hoult is proving he can take a very generic role and bring charisma to it just as he did in Warm Bodies earlier this year. As I stated before, the introduction is well made and the scenes scaling the beanstalk were intense for a guy like me who is afraid of falling. The climatic battle scene is action packed with the humans against the giant army. The war with the giants does save the film, although I don’t think there’s any way the kingdom could have taken out the swarm of giants. Maybe Singer should have stuck to a smaller amount of giants.

I’m not declaring Singer as being back. Jack the Giant Slayer is full of highs and lows which make the film and uneven experience. Singer needed to show his edge more as he did with the X-Men franchise and not make the giants so goofy and oafish. On a side note, the 3D experience was not great for me. The 3D projector caused the film to be restarted three times. When it was focused the 3D was nothing special. If you choose to see Jack the Giant Slayer, save your money and see it in 2D. I give Jack the Giant Slayer 2 potatoes out of 4.

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