I went into Jack with very little in the way of any expectations. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was wary. First of all, this film was supposed to come out a year ago. A film that gets kicked back a year is not a good sign (how much better do you think GI JOE 2 is going to be in a few weeks for undergoing the same delay?). If the reason for the delay was 3D, I watched it in that format and couldn’t see much benefit to having it. Second, this project to me has always seemed a very odd match of director and material. Fairy tales and Bryan Singer are both things I love. I also love Metallica and Tolkien; doesn’t necessarily mean I want Silmarillion: The Rock Opera. Third, this production’s budget has become something of story in and of itself, so I went in knowing probably way too much about how the sausage was made, but when you dig as much as I do that tends to happen.
Jack is very faithful to the fairy tale; much more so than I expected. It essentially is the classic tale of the beans and the stalk and the giants, with a few extra twists thrown in to make it worthy of a feature film. Nicholas Hoult, who has now been in 40% of the movies I’ve seen this year, does just fine as Jack. Ewan McGregor is fun as the captain of the king’s guards. The art direction is fantastic. The look of the giant kingdom is just absolutely stunning. The giants themselves also look brilliant. The expression and level of facial acting they get out of them is really amazing. So why didn’t I love it?
Jack’s main problem is it doesn’t really know what kind of movie it’s going to be. For having such a strong director, I saw nothing of Bryan Singer’s voice in the film. It’s not a kids movie. Bloodless though the violence is, there is a metric ton of it. It’s not a dark adult fairy tale like Pan’s Labyrinth or even Snow White and the Huntsman. It’s not a fractured fairy tale along the lines of The Princess Bride. The film has very little humor at all that’s not of the booger and fart variety and that’s a shame, because I think that’s the direction that would have made the film. There’s no whimsy to it, no quips or memorable humor at all. Fairy tales should have a sparkle to them, a wink of the eye. In trying to be all things to all people, Jack ends up being visually striking but very little else. 6.5/10.0
PS – They almost got another half a point out of me with a clever bit at the end but then they muffed it. It was like watching a gymnast stick a landing and then sit down. GRRR.
The Usual Suspects made the careers of both director Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey, who won the first of his two Oscars playing the film’s breakout character: Verbal Kint. The ending of the film is one of the greatest lines and reveals in cinema history, so if you for some reason passing the understanding of man have not seen The Usual Suspects, do NOT watch these clips. The ending, though set up by the whole film, really is sold when Verbal tells the detectives the myth and legend of Keyser Soze. Spacey weaves a spellbinding tale of this criminal mastermind, darker than the devil and larger than life. He’s elusive and terrifying, and if the detectives had been a little more aware of their surroundings, they’d have known just how thoroughly they were being played when Kint says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled is convincing the world he didn’t exist.” It’s an epic story and a grand illusion that sets up the film’s legendary hammer blow of an ending.
Today heralds the return of director Bryan Singer to the cinema with Jack and the Giant. While it doesn’t seem like this is going to be a classic on par with his earlier work (Rotten Tomatoes has it at 49% at the time of this piece), I’m just glad he’s back. His career got off to such a spectacular beginning and, let’s not forget, we owe this man for beginning the modern comic book movie renaissance with the first two X-Men films. Singer got his start in Hollywood as an assistant to Richard Donner whose Superman saga he brought to a close in Superman Returns. I think the stress of that production and the backlash from some fans really shook him and threw him entirely off track. I love Superman Returns. I’ll have to do a whole column on it sometime, but I think it’s absolutely fantastic. So here are my top 5 Singer films and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us next year with X-Men: Days of Future Past.
1. The Usual Suspects (1993)
2. Superman Returns (2006)
3. X2: X-Men United (2003)
4. X-Men (2000)
5. Valkyrie (2008)
Another photo from this summer’s The Wolverine. Director James Mangold actually leaked this one which tells us nothing whatsoever but looks cool nonetheless. I really want to see a trailer on this. Apparently this is supposed to take place AFTER X-Men 3. I’m a little foggy on how that works with the bone claws we’ve seen in previous stills, but it could be flashbacks. There are some big movies this year that I have no fears about at all. Desolation of Smaug, Star Trek, Elysium; no worries whatsoever. Then there’s this. I want so badly for it to be good, but not sure on it.
Courtesy, obviously, of Empire Magazine’s next issue is a look at Logan from this summer’s upcoming The Wolverine. The film, helmed be James Mangold (Walk the Line) will cover Logan’s time in Japan. If you’re wondering where it fits into the whole timeline, note that there isn’t any adamantium on those claws. Wolverine will also be appearing in the next X-Men film proper: X-Men Days of Future Past alongside the casts of both the orignal trilogy and X-Men: First Class. Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer today revealed that film will take place ten years after the events in First Class, which would put it somewhere around 1972. So we’ll all get to enjoy Magneto in bellbottoms. That’s ridculous, lol, Joel Schumacher is nowhere near that film….