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Jack, the Giant Slayer

Je ne sais quoi is a famous French phrase meaning “I don’t know what.” It’s used when you know something, but you can’t accurately describe it.

What’s missing from Jack, the Giant Slayer? It’s hard to say. Je ne sais quoi.

Jack, the Giant Slayer has a stellar cast, cool effects and a classic story (with some fresh tweaks). The trailers and TV spots look great. But the movie lacks that certain something—something that would make it a “must see.” Je ne sais quoi.

As it begins, JTGS looks like a family flick for all ages. A bedtime story is shared in separate scenes with a young boy and a young girl. The boy grows up to be Jack. The girl becomes princess Isabelle. Jack goes to town, meets the princess, gets the magic beans and the story takes off. In short order, so does the beanstalk.

Jack is played by Nicholas Hoult, who was tremendous as R in the recent Warm Bodies. Isabelle is played by the gorgeous Eleanor Tomlinson. Ian McShane is the king and Ewan McGregor (good guy) and Stanley Tucci (bad guy) are members of the king’s court. Eddie Marsan, who is becoming one of my favorite character actors, also has a small role.

As the story develops, so does the violence. The reasons for the PG-13 rating become obvious. The battles between the earthbound residents and the giants from the sky are epic. The film’s climax is especially well conceived. The 3-D is good, if not great. Still, there’s something needed to make this film special. Je ne sais quoi.

When you spend $185 million to make a movie, you should deliver a bit more magic to the screen than JTGS does. While the film’s accomplishments do amount to more than, pardon the expression, a hill of beans, I was expecting to be dazzled.

Jack, the Giant Slayer is a good, solid, well-made film. You will not walk out of the theater grumbling that you were ripped off. But it falls short of classic. I wish I could tell you exactly why. But I can’t quite put my finger on it. Je ne sais… oh, you know.

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