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jack-the-giant-slayer09“Jack the Giant Slayer” is what used to be called a “ripping good yarn.” It’s got all the ingredients of classic fairy tales—a pretty princess, heroics galore, a dash of romance and loads of giant slaying! It’s also a change from the usual Hollywood fairy tale retellings in that it remains fairly true to the source—there’s no Snow White and the Huntsman style ennui here—but what starts out as a family friendly romp turns much darker near the end and might freak-out younger Jack and the Beanstock fans.

The classic “Jack and the Beanstock” is given an epic twist by director Bryan “X-Men” Singer. Synopsis: The action in this epic retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk begins when the king’s advisor Roderick (Stanley Tucci) hatches a plot to steal an enchanted crown and the six magic beans that hold to key to opening a gateway between earth and Gantua, the land of the giants. Enter poor farmer Jack (Nicholas Hoult) who becomes involved when he unwittingly sows a seed that sprouts a giant beanstalk, literally shooting the princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) skyward into the humungous hands of the giants. Determined to rescue her Jack battles the goliaths, wins the respect of the king and the love of a princess.

Like “Clash of the Titans” this is a large-scale computer generated epic, but “Jack” is far more successful in creating a world for the characters to live in. Both are CGI-a-Ramas with wild creatures, like two headed giants, big action set pieces and relatively simple stories of good versus evil but “Clash” is much more reliant on it’s computer creatures. “Jack” wants you to like its characters, whereas “Clash” wants you to forget about the humans and focus on the digital creations. Also, in a battle between “Clash’s” Kraken and this movie’s giants, I’d bet on the giants.

The beanstock certainly takes top billing, but it’s fun to see Ewen Bremner—Spud from “Trainspotting”—in a juicy villain role, backing up an evil Tucci, who seems to be having fun here.

It’s a large-scale English pantomime without the songs—there’s slapstick, elaborate costumes and you’re supposed to boo at the bad guys and cheer for the heroes. It won’t become a staple in my Blu Ray collection, but I enjoyed watching the giant chef prepare pigs-in-a-blanket with live pigs!

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