We all know the story, but until special effects advances made it possible, it was hard to tell the Jack and the Beanstalk tale in any way on screen except in animation. Many of us remember the 1947 Disney version, featuring Mickey Mouse and Goofy, fondly.
But now comes Jack the Giant Slayer with live actors and some terrific special effects.
The story is embelished and enlarged in the film. Nicholas Hoult (Marcus in About a Boy) plays Jack. He goes to town to sell a horse (and also meet the princess played by Eleanor Tomlinson) and comes home with some special beans. Up grows the beanstock and Jack climbs it with soldiers to rescue the princess, who is looking for an adventure. There they find the land of not one, but a whole tribe of fearsome giants and barely escape with their lives before becoming involved in a fantastic war with the behemoths.
Ewan McGregor plays the faithful knight and Stanley Tucci is hissable as the mugging villain. Bill Nighy has fun voicing the grotesque two-headed leader of the giants: they are really nasty and crude. Director Bryan Singer (X-Men) and a group of writers including Christopher McQuarrie have nicely refurbished the old fairy tale, with surprising plot twists.
Perhaps it goes on too long but it is mostly a fun and rousing adventure and solid family film, although probably too scary for young children.
Rating: four deer out of five
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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.