Jack is a lowly farm boy with an imagination full of the stories his mother told him about giants as a young boy. When he is tasked with selling his horse and cart at the castle, he is given magical beans by a strange monk who warns him not to get them wet. That night, the King’s daughter leaves the castle but is forced to stop at Jack’s house when the rain comes. Being touched by the rainwater, one of the beans creates a huge beanstalk, taking the princess to the very top. Jack and some of the King’s men must climb the beanstalk to rescue her and face terrible dangers when they get there.

Jack The Giant Slayer (2013) – Director: Bryan Singer

Is Jack The Giant Slayer appropriate for kids

Rating: 12A

Running Length: 114 mins

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci

Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale, Action/Adventure

REVIEW

Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) brings his usual stylish direction to the latest cinematic fairytale adaptation, ‘Jack The Giant Slayer’. This is a well crafted film, incorporating all the essential elements of the ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ story but giving a completely fresh feel which can be fully enjoyed by the younger members of the audience as well as any adult who is overly familiar with the tale. Nicholas Hoult is the eponymous and very likeable hero, Jack, who always seems to be making the best of a bad situation. The chemistry between him and Tomlinson’s Princess Eleanor is subtle but believable and the rest of the cast are clearly enjoying their light-hearted roles in an adventure story which doesn’t take itself too seriously. Hoult in particular gives a stellar performance as Jack. Always trying to do the right thing and yet constantly finding himself in deeper and deeper trouble, he exudes an easy going charm that really helps to carry this movie. In less skilled hands Jack may have been rather irritating, or overly twee, but as it is, Hoult lets the character hang loose and take things along with a reassuring wink to the audience.

The whole tone of the movie is that of a very lighthearted adventure feel. Most of the time we felt that we were surprised that it had been given a 12A certificate, as it felt very PG for the vast majority of the time. However, most likely it was the nature of the giants that increased the rating. Whether it be their imposing presence, or that they often pick up people to eat (albeit usually in the background), the contrast did feel a little odd, like ‘Jack The Giant Slayer‘ didn’t quite know how to pitch the level correctly.

The pacing does vary a bit; some of the scenes in the giant’s realm are a little slow and although it is understandable that some time is required to set up and explain the threat that will be unleashed in the third act, for the most part the time spent in the giants’ realm feels like clock watching. Luckily the light-hearted action-adventure swashbuckling drive of the movie does mean that it doesn’t drag and, at just under two hours, there is plenty of plot to keep its audience hooked. This movie is an awful lot of fun through and through with cheeky performances and a directorial flair that is engaging and entertaining. Playing with the backdrop of large castles, damsels in distress and arrogant aristocracy, ‘Jack The Giant Slayer’ is a thoroughly enjoyable movie for even the oldest member of the family.

IS ‘JACK THE GIANT SLAYER’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

While most of the content of ‘Jack The Giant Slayer’ could have fitted nicely into a PG rating, there are a few moments that warrant the 12A certificate.

When climbing the beanstalk, the men are tied together with ropes. When one falls, several are left dangling over the edge while the others cling on. Even though they beg him not to, one of the characters cuts the rope, causing these men to fall to their deaths. Their bodies are later seen lying on the ground although this not in any way gory.

The giants eat some of the supporting characters and while this again is not gory, they are seen to be brought up to the mouth, screaming and then their limp body is held in the giant’s hand. One in particular may be a little upsetting as the people around him mourn his loss. This character had been established and was not purely incidental, so if your child may get upset at the death of a character that has lines and a presence beforehand then we would advise caution at this part. It happens whilst the party are in the giants’ lair.

Jack also sees a giant eat a lamb. He is underwater and the audience sees this from his point of view so although the giant is seen to bring the lamb to his mouth and bite it, this moment is blurred and not graphic.

Some of the imagery could be quite scary for younger viewers. The giants themselves are ugly and aggressive and there is a brief moment where one comes close to the camera so that his eyeball takes up the entire shot. This would be particularly scary in 3D! One of the main giants has an additional mutated head attached to his shoulder which can only make guttural sounds and the occasional difficult to understand word. While this may be a little disturbing for younger children, this ‘character’ is more for comedy than fear.

Another scene, which was used partially in the trailers, shows a character wrapped in pastry, about to be cooked. He is lying next to two pigs who will share his fate. A giant then comes along and kills the pigs by stabbing them with sticks. This is done off camera and there is no accompanying sound of pain from them, however they are later seen with the sticks protruding from their backs. Children who are fond of animals and/or distressed by animal suffering may not like this part.

While the majority of the violence is not gory, there is a scene towards the end where characters are killed graphically. This is a pivotal moment and it is difficult to describe without giving away spoilers! However, the worst part of this scene shows the head of one of the giants being crushed so tightly that his eyeball pops out and flies at the screen. Again, there is no blood but the suffering is shown for a few seconds. As this happens to bad characters and it is only brief, children may be a little distressed at what they have seen but it is unlikely to cause too much upset.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

Jack The Giant Slayer’ is likely to be entertaining and enjoyable for a wide range of ages. We feel that most children aged 6 and over will be able to enjoy this movie without too much distress, however we do recommend adult supervision for children who are sensitive to violence in case any reassurance is required.

  • Violence:  2/5 (While some of the action is quite intense and exciting, the gore and focus on individual deaths is kept to a minimum)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (One character who is eaten by a giant is mourned by the people who cared about him)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (The giants can be quite scary, aggressive and relentless)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (When Jack first meets Isabelle, she is being surrounded by several threatening men, one of whom calls her ‘pretty’. Jack soon steps in to stop them and the threat is quickly removed. This is very mild and children are unlikely to pick up on this mild sexual threat. There is also a brief shot of a harp which has the figure of a topless woman carved onto it however this isn’t meant to be a sexual image)
  • Bad Language: 2/5 (A few mild to moderate curse words are used but are few and far between)
  • Dialogue: 1/5 (The giants sometimes talk about how much they enjoy eating people)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of loyalty, betrayal, courage and doing the right thing.

Words by Mike Record

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