This review originally appeared in The Big Issue, Edition #429, March 29 2013
A new spin on the old beanstalk yarn for the blockbuster age, with extra giants—an army, in fact—for action, and added princess, for romance.
Jack, the latest from the under-appreciated Bryan Singer, of the original X-Men films, is well-crafted, but uninspired. Singer has a firmer grasp on visual grammar and narrative structure than most Hollywood journeymen, but he lacks a certain imaginative spark. This is especially clear when he lets the brisk, up-the-beanstalk adventure of the first two acts give way to the kind of rote, medieval siege scenario that now seems expected from our post-Lord of the Rings fantasy films.
About a Boy‘s Nicholas Hoult, all grown up, makes an affably heroic lead. Eleanor Tomlinson is likeable enough as the spirited princess, but doesn’t have much to do, other than be rescued.
A familiar band of character actors, including Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci, show up to lend professionalism and charm, but the film fails to soar as high as its beanstalks.