The latest spin on a classic fairytale begins and ends as a bedtime story, but oddly enough, it shuts the door on the under-13 crowd.
In this version, the legendary beans that come into Jack's possession are ancient relics, passed down over the ages until their dangerous powers are stopped with the burial of legendary ruler, King Erik. Yet poor, farm boy Jack still retrieves them, and though he's heard the legend of the beans' power since he was a tot, he never expects that they will cause such a commotion. That is until Princess Isabelle, heir to the throne and King Erik's descendant, comes into his life.
There is another famous children's story inadvertently referenced in "Jack." When Jack and a few other humans arrive at the mythical land in the clouds atop the beanstalk, one character's wearing of a simple crown brings the giants to their knees and complicates the plot. I'll bet Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak was at least considered when producers brought "Jack" to the 21st Century. The following passage from Sendak's classic tale comes to mind and, if pointed out, older children are sure to see the similarities as well:"And when he came to the place where the wild things arethey roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teethand rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible clawstill Max said "BE STILL!"and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking onceand they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of alland made him king of all wild things."
The giants are what make the film memorable, but they're also why the film is rated PG-13. They're shown close-up, with mangy skin, decaying teeth, and an appetite for human flesh. The film insinuates that they eat people and animals by showing them holding up the much smaller creatures and putting them toward their mouths. The film is also rated PG-13 because it depicts knife fights and people pushed down the beanstalk to their deaths.
The movie is not going to win best picture, mainly because the writing is weak. When Jack climbs the beanstalk with deadpan phrases like, "I'm not too fond of heights," adult and savvier viewers will groan. Yet the film, just like the fairytale, is meant for children, and if they'd cut just a little more of the gore, it would have been a great film for its intended audience. Kid Focused Grades for Jack the Giant Slayer
Compelling story line - B
Strong message - B
Leading character is a role model - A
Sexual content - A (There is one kiss between Jack and the leading lady.)
Violence - C (The giants are grisly and there is lots of fighting)
Suited for the whole family - B- Overall Grade: B- Jack the Giant Slayer, Rated PG-13Running Time: 1 hour 53 minutes
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