- Released Internationally on 27/02/13
- Released in Malta by KRS on 27/03/13
Preview (first published 01/03/13 in VIDA Magazine)
Yup, another fairy tale. Fee fi fo fum, etc., but of course this is the supercharged version for the big screen. I have higher hopes for this one though, compared to all the other fairy tale films of recent years. Mostly because it’s directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men), but also because he roped in Christopher McQuarrie (also of The Usual Suspects fame) to polish up the script. The film stars Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man) as Jack, who finds his way in the world of giants, and of course has a princess to rescue. Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge!), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Ian McShane (Sexy Beast) and the inimitable Bill Nighy (Love Actually) also star.
So far, this has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. The trailers and promotional material for this film didn’t help raise my expectations, but I ended up enjoying myself from start to finish. If accepted for what it is – a light-hearted re-working of a famous fairytale – this film manages to deliver on all levels.
It starts off, as all proper fairytales should, with a bedtime story, setting up the parallel situations of our hero Jack and his counterpoint princess, as they both sit in their (respective) beds, listening wide-eyed as their parents recount the lore of the giants. Fast forward a bit and Jack is of course a poor farmer’s boy, while the princess is, well, a princess. Before long the infamous beans make an entrance, and the grand adventure can begin. Before the beanstalk even starts to sprout, however, I was already fond of the main characters – both Jack and the princess (newcomer Eleanor Tomlinson) are likeable, and with good chemistry between them. The smaller roles don’t disappoint either, with Ewan McGregor having great fun in ‘Tally-Ho!’ mode as the head of the king’s guard, and Stanley Tucci in delightfully crafty mode as the scheming advisor.
We then head, as expected, to the place ‘half-way between heaven and earth’, where giants roam free. The giants, who come in various shapes and sizes (none of which are pleasing to the eye), don’t burst onto the scene, but director Singer manages to build up enough expectation and grant them a tense, silent, ‘reveal’ – a sort of lesser cousin of T-Rex’s appearance in Jurassic Park (with similar sound effects). Their land is depicted as an oddly familiar paradise – resembling some parts of earth, but feeling very different – again, akin to Isla Nublar in Jurassic Park, or Skull Island in King Kong. Some of the set pieces also delight – such as a wonderful kitchen scene reminiscent of ‘Les Poisson’ in The Little Mermaid.
Back on the ground, the obvious false ending quickly makes way for a riotous third act, including a castle assault that manages to be coherent and entertaining. The single-mindedness of the giants makes them formidable foes, with not a single big friendly giant in sight. Throughout proceedings, the film manages to keep on just the right side of silly – something I felt last week’s Oz failed to do. The ending was another wonderful surprise – I loved it! This is no thought-provoker or event film, but it’s not pretentious, and it’s fun throughout, managing to bring a classic fairytale back to life with gusto.