Last evening, I had the opportunity to see Jack the Giant Slayer in 3-D. With an exceptional cast, the film presents an ancient English folk tale in the most vivid visual way possible, with spectacular scenery and sound. I was most impressed by the technology, which is vastly grown over the years.
The adventure-fantasy that this film portrays runs far from the original story, thought it’s most entertaining for the audience it’s intended for – namely those over 13. Though there’s no bad language, drug use or sex, the amount of violence warrants a PG-13 rating.
It is a cinematic tour de force with fabulous scenes of castles, countryside and medieval life, even if they’ve blended every period from the dark ages to the mid 19th century in the sets, costumes and story. The film is directed by Bryan Singer and stars Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy and Ewan McGregor.
Hoult, playing the title role, inadvertently opens a gateway to the land of giants. His princess, Isabelle – played by Tomlinson, for whom he’s clearly falling in love, is captured by the beanstalk which takes them rapidly up to the land of giants. Her father, the king, played by Ian McShane (one of my favorite British male actors) sends his best troops to find them, accompanied by Lord Roderick (Tucci) and Elmont (MacGregor) among others. Roderick has been plotting and planning to become king of the giants after stealing an ancient crown from the royal tombs, along with the seeds that when wet, cause the beanstalks to grow.
After considerable danger and through great heroic effort, Jack and Isabelle return to her kingdom, and Elmont escapes after killing the treacherous Roderick. Thinking that felling the beanstalk ended their risk, they all move on and start for home, but Jack soon realizes that the giants, led by their two headed king (played by Nighy) are coming down to earth, to attack and kill his Isabelle. Titanic battles ensue, and eventually Jack uses a single bean to kill the king of the giants, claiming the miraculous crown for his own. Giants, for some odd reason, are humbled by the sight of this crown, yielding to anyone who wears it as their king.
Isabelle’s father realizes that Roderick had betrayed his trust and soon begins to realize that Isabelle, a rebellious princess, has fallen in love with this commoner turned king of giants. Eventually, they wed, have children and tell them the tale of knighthood, gallantry, giants and beanstalks.
The film industry has an amazing ability to take a story that’s been around for hundreds of years and turn it, somehow, into a modern myth, skipping salient points of the original and altering the story, often horribly missing the point. Personally, I’m not fond of that, nor of their recent inclination of taking children’s stories and turning them into violent, murderous plots full of blood, gore and fear. All these films do is serve to scare children and set forth in their minds that violence is perfectly acceptable.
Whilst old fairy tales and folktales were intended to put fear into children, this was carefully crafted to ensure the fear was part of a life-lesson, not simply for the purpose of creating panic in a child. Though this fear and panic may not be immediately evident, over the course of time it builds in the subconscious mind, causing nightmares, abnormal behavior and quite often causing children go have psychological problems. Maybe this is why so many today seem to feel nothing bad about using guns in mass violence in real life.
Parents, heed my warning, violent films shouldn’t be the norm for children under 13. Tonight, I saw (at a late show, getting out at midnight), parents taking children who were obviously as young as five to see this film. Before you know it, your docile little child is going to grow up quite happy to do violent things because it was fine in the movies. The line between reality and cinematic fantasy is so easily blurred in the mind of a child or even an adult.
I wasn’t too thrilled to see them morph the crown of the king of giants into what is now the state crown of Britain. In that, the filmmakers blend fairy tale with reality, blurring that line, and ignoring the true and honest history of the British crown stored at the Tower of England. But hey, I’m very picky about historic facts versus fantasy.
Did I enjoy Jack the Giant Slayer? You bet I did.