Jack the Giant Slayer mightn’t look promising — the trailers are kind of awful — but if you could fairly judge a movie by its trailer then you wouldn’t need us, would you? And while our Piers Marchant was properly skeptical going into Bryan Singer’s version of the old beanstalk legend, he came out of the theater actually liking the film — “at least a little.”
“Of course, this remains, essentially, a ’tween action film,” he writes in this week’s MovieStyle. “Everything in it has to get ramped up and supersized, and the stakes greatly enhanced (a single stalk in the fairy tale becomes a mammoth network of tree-trunk thick vines spiraling upward; a lone giant becomes a formidable CGI army; instead of a boy’s familial love and a simple homestead, a beautiful princess and an entire kingdom are at stake) but Singer and his slew of screenwriters, including longtime co-collaborator Christopher McQuarrie, keep the characters just grounded enough to make the fable resonate.”
Unfortunately, such praise does not accrue to the week’s other offering, writer-director Todd Robinson’s submarine flick Phantom, which could be described as a homeless person’s Das Boot, which Marchant notes, “was later expanded into a German miniseries. But whereas [Wolfgang] Petersen used his limited resources to craft something so realistic you could feel the grimy sheen of sweat and terror of the crew members on your own faces, all Robinson can muster is a continued fascination with Ed Harris’ noble cheekbones. I well understand the idea of budgetary restriction, but couldn’t the producers have at least saved enough to pay for some Russian accents?”
But at least the producers of Phantom had courage enough to show their work to critics — the same can’t be said for the filmmakers behind The Last Exorcism Part II or 21 and Over. But you probably have a pretty good idea about what those films are like.
And Philip Martin turns his OnFilm column onto the latest Oscar host, Seth MacFarlane. Was he really that bad? (Just asking, there’s no need to throw things.)