A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jack and the Giant Slayer is a big-budget adaptation of the classic English fairy tale. It's full of swashbuckling action, computer-generated fantasy violence, and considerable collateral damage. The violence is the result of the vengeful giants holding an (understandable) grudge against the humans. People die from being eaten (the giants tear people apart to eat them) or burned, plunging to their deaths, getting crushed, and other catastrophes. There are also sword fights, and a well-liked character meets a particularly gruesome end. There's mild romance between Jack and Princess Isabelle (they flirt and share a couple of sweet, chaste kisses) and a little bit of language ("hell," "bastared," etc.). In classic fairy tale tradition, the hero is brave and selfless, and the heroine -- while definitely up for adventure -- finds herself in need of saving on more than one occasion.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER retells the old English fairy tale about a farm boy named Jack (Nicholas Hoult) who grows up hearing the legend of King Erik, who defeated giants of Gantua, a land between heaven and Earth. While at market to sell his uncle's horse and cart, Jack meets and defends the honor of Princess Isabelle (who's disguised as a commoner) and sells his horse to a desperate monk, who gives Jack a sack of beans and the promise of treasure if he keeps them safe. After Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) escapes the palace for an adventure and ends up at Jack's farm, one of the beans accidentally gets wet and shoots up -- Jack's farm and the princess along with it. The king (Ian McShane) dispatches his head guardian, Elmont (Ewan McGregor), to climb the stalk, and Jack, now smitten with Isabelle, volunteers to join the rescue. But their mission is thwarted by the king's counselor (and Isabelle's betrothed), Roderick (Stanley Tucci), who wants to use an ancient crown to rule the giants and the kingdom below it.
Is it any good?
The Princess Bride this is not. Yes, there's a compellingly duplicitous villain in Roderick and the understandably vengeful giants, but there's not much character development or clever dialogue, or even a particularly epic romance. The special effects and the scatological humor make it obvious that this fantasy is aimed at tween boys -- the only members of an audience who would laugh at a giant picking and then eating his own booger.
At least the leads are likable enough. Hoult, who also starred in the much more memorable Warm Bodies, is a talented young leading man, and Tomlinson is luminous and regal as the adventure-seeking princess. But neither their charm nor the rest of the impressive cast can fully overcome the film's weaknesses. The CGI eye candy will keep tweens and teens entertained, but in the end, for a movie about giants, there's not much weight to this spectacle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Jack the Giant Slayer compares to other versions of the tale. Were you surprised at how it compares to the Jack and the Beanstalk tale you remember?
There's a lot of fantasy violence in the movie. Do you think the movie would have been more appropriate for younger kids if fewer people had been shown dead/dying/killed? What purpose, if any, does the violence serve?
Why is the idea of a peasant falling in love with a royal so compelling? Was the romance in this story believable? What did Jack and Isabelle have in common, despite the difference in their status?
- In theaters: March 1, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 18, 2013
- Cast: Ewan McGregor, Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci
- Director: Bryan Singer
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Fairy Tales
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language
- Last updated: March 16, 2020
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