Jack the Giant Slayer Blu-ray Review
I did not see JACK THE GIANT SLAYER during its initial theatrical release and it’s mediocre performance at the box office was in the back of my mind when I sat down to view the film in its Blu-ray debut. And I’m glad I did. Where some films “based” on popular tales are horrible – yes, I’m looking at you RED RIDING HOOD — this film was not only quite entertaining, but beautifully presented as well.
The film begins with two different children being told a bed time story. Young Jack (Michael Self) listens as his father tells of the legend of King Erik, who long ago defeated Giants. Jack dreams of one day being an imperial guardian but is told that he must be born of noble blood. On the other side of the kingdom, the queen is telling the same story to Princess Isabelle (Sydney Rawson), who too aspires to an adventurous life. “Someday,” her mother tells her, “you will change the world.”
We jump ahead a decade to find Jack (Hoult) given the task of taking the family’s horse and cart into town to sell it. He is sent by his uncle, who has been raising him since Jack’s father died. While in town he is sidetracked by a marionette show also being attended by Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), who has snuck away from her protective guard. When Isabelle is accosted by a group of drunken men Jack attempts to intercede. He is puzzled by their reaction to him only to realize that Isabelle’s army of protectors, led by Elmont (McGregor) have arrived in the nick of time. Isabelle is whisked back to the castle to the protective arms of her father, King Brahmwell (Ian McShane), whose wife has also passed away. Concerned for his daughter’s future he is planning to marry her off to Count Roderick (Tucci), who is only concerned about his future status than the love of Isabelle. Jack’s cart is stolen and he soon finds that he’s given his horse to a monk on the run, who gives him a bag of beans which he says have great power. When Jack gets home his uncle is more than a little angry, throwing the beans to the ground. But when one of them gets wet it sprouts a huge….well, I’m sure you know the story.
Stunningly rendered, JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is one of the best looking films merging live action and CGI characters that I have seen in some time. The giants in question are an ugly bunch, with each one bearing a particular physical characteristic. They are led by General Fallon (Bill Nighy), who has the distinction of having an extra head on his soldiers (voiced by John Kassir). Though an occasional foil for comedy, Fallon is truly bad to the bone with hopes of one day being the giants’ king. The cast does a convincing job of maintaining their characters, with Tucci stealing his scenes as a combination of Chris Sarandon’s Prince Humperdinck and Christopher Guest’s Count Rugen from THE PRINCESS BRIDE.
The computer-designed world found atop of the beanstalk is painstakingly rendered and a thing to behold. My hats off to the production team that conceived it. The production all around is well designed as the story unfolds with special mentions going to cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel and composer John Ottman, both long time associates of director Singer.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The film is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio with a picture that literally jumps off the television screen. Depth of field is very sharp and the special effects seamless.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, there isn’t a sound to be missed in the mix. Even during the busy battle scenes every giant grunt and clash of steel is heard cleanly.
Become a Giant Slayer: A novel way to view the “making of” features on the disc require the viewer to climb a giant beanstalk to unlock the various segments. A real pain in the rear for those (including myself) that don’t immediately get the hang of negotiating the beanstalk with the remote! As you succeed you are eventually treated to the following segments:
Know Your Enemy, Suiting Up, Attack Tactics, The Magic of a Beanstak, How to Zip, Giant’s Kitchen, Saving the Princess and Defending Your Kingdom.
Deleted Scenes (8:27): Five scenes that add nothing to the film
Gag Reel (3:09): A brief feature on some of the mishaps that occurred during filming, including an uncooperative cat that won’t lick McGregor’s face on cue.