If there was someone who’s managed to escape the stink of Superman Returns with his reputation and career largely intact it was Bryan Singer. The Superman reboot/sequel/relaunch was doomed because of its substantial history; despite getting solid reviews and making nearly $400 million all told at the box office it was a flop because of the investment in the film over the years. It was a collective failure; Singer was just the man who was left holding the bag at the end because he got it into production.
It’s odd that no one really blames that film’s failures on him, despite Superman being launched one more time by Zack Snyder. Singer launched another X-Men franchise and got Warner Bros. in to finance a passion project: a $200 million version of “Jack and the Beanstalk” envisioned as a fantasy adventure film. A substantial failure as well at the box office, Singer might just want to stick with his Marvel franchise for a while due to the financial success of Jack the Giant Slayer, or lack thereof.
It’s a simple premise. Jack (Nicholas Hoult) is a young farmer who winds up trading his horse for some magic beans. When a beautiful princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) winds up riding the beanstalk those beans produced, and the king’s evil advisor (Stanley Tucci) conspiring to usurp the throne, it’s up to Jack to save the day.
One can see why this film didn’t connect with film goers like it was projected; big fantasy adventures stories generally don’t tend to draw at the box office all that often, of course. But here’s the thing: it’s not that bad of a film for it to flop as hard as it did.
It’s the fantasy equivalent to John Carter a year ago; this is the equivalent film in story as well. It’s about a young man of less than noble birth finding himself leading the way against an invading force of mystical means which contains a forced marriage of a princess to someone she doesn’t love for political purposes.
Throw in a leading man in a role that should be inhabited by a character actor (Ewan McGregor), and a number of impressive action sequences heavily utilizing CGI, and there aren’t huge differences between the two in terms of themes as well as fiscal realities. And it’s about on par in quality, as well: this is a good film that borders on brilliance but never really crosses it.
There’s a substantial making of piece called Become a Giant Slayer, deleted scenes and a gag reel.
Warner Bros. presents Jack the Giant Slayer. Directed by Bryan Singer. Written by Darren Lemke and Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney. Starring Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy. Running time: 114 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released: June 18, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.