Film fan Dave Croy, a World-Herald graphic artist, writes about his favorite genre of movies -- think action films, sci-fi and anything with superheroes.
For a film that cost upwards of $200 million to produce, there is remarkably little buzz surrounding “Jack the Giant Slayer,” which opens Friday.
I'm not sure what this says about Hollywood's continuing interest in fairy tales, a trend that probably got its start with the “Shrek” movies, reached its peak with “Alice in Wonderland,” and found its way to television with shows like “Grimm,” and “Once Upon a Time.”
Last year gave us “Mirror, Mirror,” (a comedic “Snow White” flop with Julia Roberts) and “Snow White and the Huntsman,” (a drama with “Twilight” star Kristen Stewart, “Thor” and “Avengers” star Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron in what is the ultimate wicked queen/witch turn — until Angelina Jolie appears as Sleeping Beauty's nemesis “Maleficent” in the coming film of the same name.)
“Huntsman” made around $400 million worldwide, good enough to merit a sequel.
So far this year, we have had only “Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters,” to satisfy our apparently limitless appetite for reworked children's tales. Violent and dopey, but fun in a cheesy sort of way, this film starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton has made almost $164 million worldwide, which isn't bad considering its $50 million cost.
Which brings us back to “Jack.” Director Bryan Singer (”X-Men,” “X2: X-Men United,” “Superman Returns”) has crafted the tale of a boy, his magic beans and the beanstalk that takes him to the land of the giants in the sky. It's a live-action would-be epic (OK, the giants are obviously computer-generated. Real giants have proved unreliable in the past) that features a decent cast, including fresh-from “Warm Bodies” Nicholas Hoult as Jack, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci and Ian McShane.
Apparently, Jack manages to restart a long-running war between humans and giants as he attempts to rescue Isabelle (the princess), played by Eleanor Tomlinson.
Early online reviews are mostly positive. (It's currently at 62 percent favorable at Rotten Tomatoes.) I have seen it compared flatteringly to “Lord of the Rings” in a few places. Singer has demonstrated in the past that he knows his way around big-budget, highly visual action set-pieces. Even if you, like many fans, were disappointed in “Superman Returns,” you have to admit that the Superman-in-action scenes were pretty, uh, super.
Concerns about this film include Singer's career slide since “Superman Returns,” the fact that he replaced the original director, D.J. Caruso, (”Disturbia,” “Eagle Eye,” “I Am Number Four”) often not a good sign, and that it was originally supposed to be released in June of last year but was delayed in post-production until now.
The relatively weak marketing campaign probably doesn't speak well of studio expectations, either.
“Jack the Giant Slayer,” was shot in 3-D. It's rated PG-13, with a running time of 1 hour, 53 minutes. I expect to check it out this weekend. I'll let you know what I think.