‘Jack the Giant Slayer’–darker, bolder take on fairy tale

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EWAN McGregor

An age-old war is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants, in New Line Cinema’s 3D fantasy, action-adventure “Jack the Giant Slayer” from director Bryan Singer (“X-Men,” “The Usual Suspects”).

SCENES from the movie based on the popular children’s tale

Unleashed on Earth for the first time in centuries, the long-banished giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing a young man, Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of his life to stop them.  Fighting for a kingdom, its people and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend… and gets the chance to become a legend himself.

“What appealed to me about the story then, as now, was how deceptively simple it was, and yet how fantastic and full of potential,” Singer says.

It’s a tale that has endured for generations.  Known by different names in myriad cultures dating at least as far back as the 12th century, the giant has evolved with local lore and various retellings.

“The impetus for me was to bring a legend to life in a big, physical way.  To take what was a childhood abstraction or some illustrations in a storybook and make them real in their full scope and scale, with action and drama and a beanstalk five miles high,” says Singer, who applied the most advanced filmmaking technology available to the task, graphically depicting the interaction of man and giant, and creating the story’s rich terrain with the fullness and impact they deserve.

“We’re telling our own tale, loosely based on stories like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ and the older and darker ‘Jack the Giant Killer,’ which grew up around the legends of King Arthur, combining elements of both and introducing our own lore to give it a context and history and to bring these characters and this world to life in a dynamic way, with a kind of heightened realism,” Singer says.

“Essentially, it’s everything you remember—and more,” says Hoult, who first worked with Singer on “X-Men: First Class,” and stars in the title role.  “We’re firing crossbows, zip-lining across huge divides, swinging from vines and dodging flaming trees that giants uproot and hurl at us.  You never know what to expect.”

And, like all good yarns, “Jack the Giant Slayer” encompasses a number of larger, universal themes, such as perseverance and valor, self-sacrifice for ones’ comrades, and the things we do for love.

Dan Studney, sharing screenwriting credits with Darren Lemke and Christopher McQuarrie, observes: “It’s about growing up, and the beanstalk is a perfect metaphor for that. Climbing it means going up to face your fears, the great unknown and unfamiliar, and then coming back the richer for it.”

Shot entirely in 3D, “Jack the Giant Slayer” blends live action, practical locations and traditional effects with CG characters born of precision motion- and facial-capture performances, using the latest generation of the Simul-Cam system developed for “Avatar” to integrate the live with the virtual in real time, while cameras rolled.

A New Line Cinema presentation, in association with Legendary Pictures, “Jack the Giant Slayer” opens in the Philippines Feb. 28 and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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