Adaptation brings new life to fairy tale

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A review of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Jack the Giant Slayer'

By Becca Owsley

We all know the fairy tale. Jack goes up the beanstalk, kills the giant and gets the fortune. But the 2013 film version tells the story differently.


Jack, played by Nicholas Hoult (“Warm Bodies”), does go up a beanstalk, but he’s trying to rescue a princess and stop giants from destroying the kingdom.

While it had its differences, a few aspects remained the same. There are beans, beanstalks, giants and Jack, with some extra adventure thrown in. The film is based not only on “Jack and the Beanstalk,” but also the Arthurian legend of “Jack the Giant Slayer.”

I have read a lot of grumblings online complaining about the violence and gore in the movie, but it’s not much different than any fanciful film.

The problem might be we have become so used to a Disney version of fairy tales we forget Disney didn’t invent them. They came from a form of literature that’s not known for happily ever after. We’ve turned them into that kind of tale.

Remember, in the original, the giant boasts he’ll grind the Englishman’s bones to make his bread. And, to be honest, Jack was a thief who stole the giant’s riches.

So at least in this tale Jack has loftier and less greedy goals at hand.

It’s a fun adventure and my two biggest complaints aren’t about violence or gore. In the movie, there are a few farcical moments that did not seem to fit the tone of the rest of the film.

Also, the main giant has two heads and his second, smaller head is depicted as a disability. This portrayal seems to poke fun at those who are disabled and struck me as inappropriate.

Those two pieces served as a distraction from the rest of the film and leaving them out would have created a more complete and better movie.

It isn’t a fairy tale for younger audiences. The giants, like in original lore, do eat a lot of Englishmen and can be scary to younger children.

It’s a fun, adventurous story that works but, despite its release-date delay and rebranding efforts, still is somewhat unpolished.

The film, directed by Bryan Singer (“X-Men” films), also stars Eleanor Tomlinson (“Alice in Wonderland”), Ewan McGregor (“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”), Stanley Tucci (“The Hunger Games”) and Ian McShane (“Snow White and the Huntsman”).

The fairy tale genre has picked up steam lately through TV’s “Once Upon a Time” and various movie incarnations. Of the ones I’ve seen, this movie seems to best capture the original feel of the tale while still changing it enough to keep it fresh.

Despite a few hiccups and distractions, it’s still a fun action journey into a fairy tale world.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com. For movie reviews visit her reporter page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Becca-Owsley/96924584861.


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