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Film review: Jack the Giant Slayer (12A)


Perhaps "Jack and the Beanstalk" sounded a bit tame, and "Jack the Giant Killer" a bit bloodthirsty.

This CGI-led adventure reprises elements of both fairytales and, a few wobbles aside, makes a decent fist of it. At first we appear to be in a Blackadder-ish tale of twinned destinies.

Farm boy Jack (Nicholas Hoult) risks life and limb to follow on-the-lam princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) up the monstrous beanstalk that has sprouted into the clouds, where there might be giants...There are creaks in setting it up – magic beans, larcenous monks, unlikely encounters – but once the rescue mission is underway and Stanley Tucci's treacherous tyrant prepares his dastardly plan, the film's spell takes hold.

 The giants are pretty scary, especially the two-headed grotesque voiced as an Ulster hardman by Bill Nighy, and the battle scenes recall both The Lord of the Rings and Beowulf. These monsters really do tear up trees and use them as missiles.

As the estuary-accented Everyboy, Hoult is fine – his Jack is "not wildly keen on heights" – and perhaps complements Ewan McGregor's patrician knight better than he does the bland princess.

With its third-act chase and siege to the fore, it actually ends more strongly than it starts.