Movie Review: 'Jack The Giant Slayer'

The story of Jack and his beanstalk has been filmed innumerable times by people as diverse as Gene Kelly, Chuck Jones and the Three Stooges. While he's been through the Hollywood shuffle before, there's never been a Jack tale that's delivered so little pleasure for so many dollars.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The story of "Jack and the Beanstalk" has been filmed by people as diverse as Gene Kelly, Chuck Jones and the Three Stooges. Now there's "Jack the Giant Slayer."

Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN: Pity poor Jack. There he was minding his own business in some dusty fairytale book when he was dragooned into active service as the front man for a would-be blockbuster. Jack's been through the Hollywood shuffle before, but there's never been a Jack tale that delivered so little pleasure for so many dollars.

"Jack the Giant Slayer" is set in the made-up kingdom of Cloister. Two young people, a pauper named Jack and an adventurous princess named Isabelle, meet when he saves her from the medieval version of sexual harassment.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "JACK THE GIANT SLAYER")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (As character) What's the matter, love? Not enjoying the show?

ELEANOR TOMLINSON: (as Isabelle) Get your hands off me.

NICHOLAS HOULT: (as Jack) Hey. Hey, that's no way to treat a la...

(as Jack)...lady. To be honest, you looked a little too drunk to do that. Now let's say we let the good lady go home and I'll consider forgetting all about this.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (As character) We're sorry, sir. We don't want any trouble.

HOULT: (as Jack) Good, 'cause that's what you're going to get. Trouble...

TURAN: Jack somehow ends up with a bag of magic beans, and when one of them gets loose, a gargantuan stalk results. It propels the princess up to an island in the sky, where a race of cranky giants has been thirsting for payback against humanity for past misdeeds. Jack joins an expedition up the vine to save her.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "JACK THE GIANT SLAYER")

TOMLINSON: (as Isabelle) You're here.

HOULT: (as Jack) Yes. Is that a surprise?

TOMLINSON: (as Isabelle) We're miles up and you're afraid of heights.

HOULT: (as Jack) I'm not afraid, just not wildly keen.

TURAN: "Jack the Giant Slayer" does have all the things money can buy, including a hoard of computer generated giants.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "JACK THE GIANT SLAYER")

BILL NIGHY: (as General Fallon) Fee-fie-foe-fum, onward and downward.

TURAN: These behemoths are so big they throw burning trees around when they don't get what they want.

"Jack" is directed by Bryan Singer. Its unsurprising, cobbled-together script has all the earmarks of being a Hollywood assignment, an exercise in the arbitrary with no organic reason for being. I can't speak for giants, but if any human being had even a moment of personal passion about this project, the evidence is not on the screen.

INSKEEP: Ouch. Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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