Jack the Giant Slayer (PG-13)
Dread Central; IMDb; Legendary; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Warner Bros.; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube
It begins with alternating scenes of a poor farmer reading a story to his son, Jack, and a queen reading the same story to her daughter, Isabelle. It's about monks who had created magic beans to grow a beanstalk they hoped would reach Heaven, but only ended up reaching a land above the clouds called Gantua, where giants lived. They developed a taste for gathering riches and eating humans. But finally, the monks created a magic crown that let the wearer command the giants, and sent them back up the beanstalk to their own land. Then the beanstalk was cut down so the giants could never reach the human world again.
After this story has been told, ten years pass, so Jack is now a young man (Nicholas Hoult) living with his uncle (his father had died in the plague), and Princess Isabelle is a young woman who likes to leave the castle incognito to go among the commoners. There's a scene where they meet, briefly, which I won't go into. But they meet again later, after Jack had traded the horse he was supposed to sell for magic beans given to him by a monk who had stolen them from their hiding place in the castle. Jack was going to take the beans to the abbey to trade for money the monk had promised him, but that never happens. Instead, when his uncle has left him alone on a rainy night, Isabelle is out riding and seeks shelter at Jack's house. One of the beans falls through a crack in the floor, and the house gets carried up the giant beanstalk that grows, taking Isabelle with it, but leaving Jack behind. A rescue mission is mounted to look for Isabelle, consisting of Jack, several royal guards including their captain, Elmont (Ewan McGregor), and the man whom the king is forcing Isabelle to marry, Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci), and his lackey, Wicke. Roderick causes the deaths of several soldiers on the mission, leaving only Elmont and Jack alive. (Wicke is soon eaten by a giant.) It turns out that Roderick has stolen the magic crown and tried to steal the magic beans (which he now forces Jack to give him), because he wants to control the (CGI) giants and use them to take over the kingdom of Cloister, and then pretty much the world.
Anyway, lots of stuff happens. Isabelle is eventually rescued and heads home with Jack, while Elmont stays behind to try to stop Roderick's plan. But Roderick grows more beanstalks, which the giants use to reach the ground and assault the castle. But eventually they're defeated. And that's all I want to say about the plot. I will say the movie didn't do particularly well either critically or financially, but I think that's unfair. It's really not a bad movie at all. Though I wouldn't say it deserved to make more money at the box office than it did; it could be considered a hit, if not for its budget being so big. Anyway, it was definitely entertaining.