I was somewhat worried as the credits started to roll on this film. One production company logo turned into another, followed by another – five in all. That many studios splitting the bill on a project stinks of a film no one had complete faith in.
Fortunately for me, my fears were unfounded. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Unfortunately for the studios, they’re unlikely to make back the $195 million production budget. Before I get into what I liked about this film, I have to ask – where did that money go? The digital effects were not top-notch. The armor was inexcusably bad. I spent some time trying to decide if it was made of spraypainted cardboard or spraypainted leather – and this was on the suits worn by major characters with lots of up-close camera time.
It’s easy to compare this movie to John Carter (the worst movie I saw last year), which had a similar budget, was released at a similar time of year, and was also fantasy themed. Thankfully, this movie is miles better than John Carter.
Certainly, as I said above, it has flaws. It also has charm, in which John Carter was seriously lacking. Even the cheesy armor and cartoony special effects contribute to the fun factor of the film – they give it the air of a fairy tale, which is what it is. The movie generally takes itself seriously, but not too seriously – there were some wonderfully juvenile jokes and puns which I loved.
The performances by the two leads was surprisingly decent. I’ve seen Jack before, in Skins and X-Men: First Class. The man can act, but I don’t think he’s going to have a career as a leading man. He’s just not good-looking enough, or charismatic enough. A little too awkward and British. But solid here, and a convincing farmboy, which is nice.
I’ve technically seen Isabelle before, but her part in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was eminently forgettable. Here, she’s really very good looking, and ably fills the part of the wonderfully cliched princess-who-wants-to-have-an-adventure. Now that I think of it, this story isn’t very different from Disney’s Aladdin. That’s ok – I like that movie.
A lot of why this movie works, though, is Ewan McGregor. Not his character, Elmont, but the man himself. He oozes an easy charm that casts a warm glow over the whole movie. Or maybe it’s just me.
So in sum: mediocre special effects, unbelievably bad armor, but charming, and witty, and rather sweet. They had me at the rhyming opening exposition, and kept me pleased through the optimistically sequel-minded ending.
Leave your suspension of disbelief and critical eye at home. Don’t bother with the 3D. Relax, and enjoy a silly little fairy tale. I did. It gets first place on my list because it made me happy.
1. Jack the Giant Slayer
2. Beautiful Creatures
3. Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters