Don’t let the title fool you. “Jack the Giant Slayer” bears little resemblance to the children’s fable of the same name, leaning more on the oft-retold tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk.”
Whatever its inspiration, the film is fast-moving and fun, a family-friendly action-adventure that isn’t very taxing on the brain cells.
Directed by Bryan Singer (“X-Men”), “Jack the Giant Slayer” also brings together a pretty good collection of performers to supplement the CGI-heavy tale.
Nicholas Hoult, considerably more lively than he was in the still-in-theaters zombie rom-com “Warm Bodies,” stars as Jack, a naive farm boy who not only sells the family horse for some magic beans but also falls for the kingdom’s beautiful princess.
Eleanor Tomlinson charms as the princess Isabelle, who is swept up on the inevitable giant beanstalk and deposited in the land in the clouds, which is populated not by one giant, but an entire army of them.
In this particular embellishment of the classic tale, the giants are legendary foes, who were banished to the sky by a long-ago king who possessed a magic crown. With a pathway to the ground suddenly available, the giants have a chance at revenge.
Stanley Tucci is just evil enough as Roderick, the scheming fiance of the princess. Ewan McGregor is also good as the heroic, youngish-looking captain of the guard. Ian McShane is his commanding self as the current king, while Bill Nighy gives voice to the two-headed leader of the giants.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” doesn’t have the grandiose aspirations of, say, “The Hobbit.” It’s lightweight, without many surprises, and while the giants are suitably grotesque and intimidating (and make creative use of snot), the effects are no better than adequate. Also, 3-D adds little or nothing to the film.