Jack the Giant Slayer exists in the Jack and the Beanstalk world in skeleton only. Nicholas Hoult, last seen as a zombie in love in Warm Bodies, is the titular character. But, when we meet him, he is hardly a hero. Jack is living with his uncle working the land as tenant farmers. His mother died when he was very young and his father passed away from the plague while he was still a boy.
But this isn't just Jack's story. As established early on and teased in the Jack the Giant Slayer trailer, there is a parallel story of princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson). She lost her mother at a young age and was raised by her father, the king. Jack and Isabelle grew up, as we see in parallel flashbacks, hearing of the stories of giants and the noble knights who saved the kingdom from their wrath.
It seems that a magical beanstalk has the power to serve as a bridge of sorts from the world of humans on Earth to the giants who live in the clouds. So far, it is just the stuff of legend, but we the viewer know differently.
Jack is sent into town to sell his uncle's horse to raise money. A folly ensues involving a pesky monk who winds up taking Jack's horse in exchange for some "magical" beans. There's only one instruction... don't get them wet. When Jack gets home, his uncle is none too pleased and heads off into the night to try to raise some money. Magic beans? That foolish boy!
Well, the rest is history... or so you would think. In Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer, this is a tale that takes the fairy tale and runs with it and arrives in the form of an all-out medieval action flick with a fair dose of humor and romance. Singer knows how to make his action pop while still delivering character development that allows all his players to fully form. Evidence of that was in his X-Men movies.
And Singer's cast rises to the occasion. They don't forget to have fun and can be serious as well when it is called for. Hoult is proving to be quite a screen presence while his chemistry with Tomlinson is electric. And then there's Ewan McGregor as a palace guard and Staney Tucci as a slimy suitor for the princess. Both bring the right amount of panache and gravitas to their roles and elevate the film from solid family flick to fun adventure.