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Jack the Giant Slayer

I don’t have much that’s good to say about this, the latest result of Hollywood’s current obsession with making big-budget CGI spectaculars out of children’s fairy tales, but in all fairness I should say this: The preview screening I attended on Tuesday had problems, which, according to a studio publicist, were not the fault of the film itself but rather with the projection that evening. This resulted in 3D effects that didn’t align properly (and who knew that could happen digitally?) so that viewers either had to remove their glasses, shut one eye, or subject themselves to a probable headache. So if you speak to anyone who was at that screening and they tell you it had the worst 3D they ever saw, you shouldn’t expect to have the same experience.

That said, the digital effects are pretty much all Jack has going for it. Viewers may have higher hopes for it than something like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters because of the presence of director Bryan Singer (the X-Men movies). But he’s merely doing hack work here, having been brought onto the project at the last minute. As he is wont to do, he brought in screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie to rewrite the script, though from the results it appears all McQuarrie did was sand away any kind of interesting plot or character details. That’s the only way I can imagine in which a film credited to five writers could be so utterly bland and uninvolving. The story of a boy, some magic beans, and a giant who lives in the sky is expanded to include an army of brutish giants banished from the surface of the earth because they consider humans a delicacy. Capable actors including Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner, and Ian McShane are wasted in disposable parts alongside a colorless young hero and heroine (Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson). The plot is a minimal framework to string effects-heavy action sequences together. There’s nothing to see here but pixels at play in a movie that offers strong proof that computers will never be able to take over moviemaking.

(Truth-in-advertising gripe: Is there a way to prevent movies from giving the impression that an actor appears in a film when he or she has only lent their voice to a computer-generated character? I was looking forward to seeing Bill Nighy, but I only got his voice.)

Watch the trailer for Jack the Giant Slayer

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