Making the Grades
With moviemakers trying to sell tickets in international markets, it’s getting harder and harder to find someone to play the bad guy. Maybe that explains the resurgence in fairytales. They offer antagonists like ogres, giants and evil stepmothers who aren’t nationality specific. In the case of Jack The Giant Slayer, the enemies are huge (computer animated) giants who are eager to return from exile and exert control over the tiny humans who live on the earth below.
Their opportunity comes when Jack (Nicholas Hoult) makes a bad trade in the market after he is sent into town to sell his uncle’s (Christopher Fairbank) horse and cart. (This may be one of those instances when sending a boy to do a man’s job wasn’t a good idea.)
The farm boy is easily distracted by the sights and sounds inside the castle walls and before long finds himself defending the honor of a woman he discovers is the princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) in disguise. The intrigue continues when a monk (Simon Lowe) surreptitiously hands Jack a bag of beans and instructs him to take it to the monastery before absconding with the boy’s horse and racing off. When Jack returns home with the pouch of seeds, his uncle is furious and throws them on the floor of their little farmhouse.
We all know what happens when beans get wet. But in this adaptation, the runaway princess shows up at Jack’s home just in time to take a wild ride up the sprouting beanstalk. Jack wakes from a stupor the next morning to find himself lying at the base of the vine holding the princess’ bracelet and surrounded by the king’s guard. After discovering his daughter is somewhere in the clouds, King Brahmwell (Ian McShane) orders his officers, Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and Crawe (Eddie Marsan), to mount a rescue mission. And Jack begs to climb the vine with them—despite his fear of falling.
Unlike tamer, child-friendly versions of this tale, Jack the Giant Killer resembles more of a Brothers Grimm telling of the story than a Disney adaptation. Along with the use of the black arts and frequent moments of peril, characters are stabbed, electrocuted, punched, burned, pushed over cliffs and clubbed with a hideous mace and chain. The giants employ flaming trees, a huge metal bell and a boulder-shooting slingshot as weapons during their attack on the castle.
However for teens yearning for some Lord of the Rings kind of action, Jack the Giant Slayer may offer just the right amount of spirited adventure without the unnecessary inclusion of other content. Sexual activities and language are limited to a brief kiss, along with infrequent crude comments and curses. And while this movie requires a lot more life from Nicholas Hoult than his role as a zombie did, I won’t spill the beans on how this tale concludes.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Jack the Giant Slayer.
Jack uses yarrow to stop a bleeding wound. Why was it important for people of medieval to know how to use medicinal plants? According to WebMD, yarrow has many other uses as well.
While Jack doesn’t find a goose that lays golden eggs, he does discover a jeweled Faberge egg in the giants’ treasure room. Learn more about these exquisite creations.
How are clichés used in this script? Do they add to the humor in this film? Along with spoken idioms what visual ones (like a bee in your bonnet) are included?