Jack the Giant Slayer is one of those films that didn’t come across to me as the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it certainly ranks up there as one of the most uninspiring. There were a few scenes, I guess, that were entertaining and probably fell into the category of mindless fun. But for the most part, as I’m a few days removed from seeing Giant Slayer, all I can remember about it is what was wrong with it. Which was basically:
1. What was the deal with the backstory animation? I could barely follow along with what was being presented to me, because the animation during this sequence was unbearably awful. It looked like a video game cutscene from the 90’s. It looked like Pre-Viz. It looked like unpolished, pixelated characters. It was legitimately terrible. It was embarassing to include in a $200 million major studio production. I don’t understand how they could have created that sequence, and had it go through department after department of approvals, and nobody once stopped and said “Wait, what the hell was that?” Not that I think this movie deserved to have any more money thrown at it, but if I worked for the studio, and gave even just one crap about making anything resembling something good, I would have spent $30 million more dollars to burn the computers that created that awful sequence and started over from scratch with something that doesn’t look like a $5 PC game you can buy at Target.
2. The giants had TERRIBLE character design. I’m not sure Bryan Singer was aware that the one benefit of slathering this film in oceans of CG, is that he could have created basically whatever he wanted for the design of the giants. The giants, mind you, that are the entire selling point of this film. Instead we just got a whole bunch of big, dirt-covered humans. Big orange and brownish humans. With terrible hair choices (one of them has a Kid ‘n Play hi-top). The whole film had a dreadfully dull color pallet. The leader giant had TWO heads (oh wow! [eye roll]), but it wasn’t even a cool second head, it had a mental handicap… Was the second head there for comic relief? Am I supposed to be laughing at a disabled head? I don’t feel comfortable with that. Don’t put me in that position, please. And then in some scenes when there weren’t any tiny humans around, and the giants are hanging out in their clubhouse or whatever; there is no scale for comparison and they didn’t even feel like giants anymore… They didn’t thunder around and destroy scenery, they were just big orange dudes sitting at tables. Anyway, look at all of these character designs and ask yourself not only do any of them even look different from each other, but was the basic style of the giants even a worthwhile choice to begin with?
3. It was a relay race of villains. One guy is the main villain for most of the movie, then at some point he hands it off to one of the giants, who then hands the villain baton to another (almost completely underdeveloped) giant. Am I supposed to feel immense fear and hatred towards this giant that’s had about four minutes of screen time prior to his leadership role? Then the movie just kind of ends without really having any kind of satisfying conclusion to ANY of the villains. What did any of them even really achieve? I guess without spoiling it specifically, even though I wouldn’t really even care at this point, the end of the climactic action scene of the movie was a lot like Gangs of New York. In other words: the promise of a great battle is presented with a lot of build up that just gets brought to an abrupt halt by an unsatisfying outside element.
4. What a CGI nightmare. And it was bad CGI. At no point is the audience ever to believe that these giant computerized creations were ever actually part of the environment. Not even in a suspension of disbelief kind of way. They couldn’t even use practical effects for the giant’s’ closeups? It’s not like they couldn’t afford to use some make up, because again, this was a $200 million dollar production. It looks like the money went towards making the world as glossed over as possible. As a counter-example, The Hobbit cost only slightly more than Giant Slayer did, and they used a lot of real (Oscar nominated) make-up effects, and I believed that the characters were actually part of their environments. At least in an “I have to believe this to enjoy the movie” kind of way. In Giant Slayer, I spent basically the entire movie thinking “FAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE”.
5. Boring characters. No one in this film, from monk to farmer to king to orange giant, has any semblance of charisma. Everyone is so boring and flat and one dimensional. You can tell in scenes like when Ewan McGregor is rolled up in dough about to be served as a pig-in-a-blanket, and he’s just unemotionally rambling through his goofy lines, most likely thinking what better movie he missed out on while earning this easy paycheck.
6. This has to have one of the worst endings/epilogues ever made. I didn’t even know this movie was supposed to take place in real life London. I thought it was a fantasy land, ya know, where GIANTS lived on a big floating island in the sky. By taking us back to some kind of present day reality, are they implying that this giant land actually exists? Maybe we would have picked it up on a satellite or something? Maybe one of our drones would have flown past it?
7. Also, is this movie for children? It was way too simple and stupid of a plot for an adult to enjoy, but it was way too violent for a child to see. It’s like it was suitable for some kind of weird middle ground. Either an adult that’s a little slow, or a 6-year-old whose parents think he’s mature enough to handle it. I came across feeling like it was dumbed down, yet obnoxiously over-complicated. Like there were so many characters and minor storylines that come and go, that it would confuse the simple minds of the people brainless enough to actually enjoy it. Or maybe this was like a dumb person’s equivalent to a Robert Altman film? “Daaahhh have you seen Jake the Giant Killer, it is comploycated…! It is this generation’s Battlefield Earth” says the guy eating Doritos Locos tacos with the Charlie Sheen ‘Winning” t-shirt. I don’t know.
So, despite the fact that I forgot everything except the bad parts after three days, the only comforting thing about seeing a movie like this is that I’ll forget *everything* about it in three more days. It’s sad that a film with no real redeemable value opened #1 at the box office with $28 million. But then it becomes funny again when you realize it cost the studio $195 million to make, and probably $100 million more to market. Let us hope that this is the death rattle of the recent overproduction of fairy tale stories being butchered by Hollywood.
4 out of 10