The night sky is illuminated with streaks of lightning as a young farm-boy reads the tale of mythic giants from long ago. In the king’s castle, a princess is told the same story about these larger-than-life men who reside in a world beyond the clouds. The lives of Jack (Nicholas Hoult) the farm-boy and Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) become intertwined on that fateful night, only meeting each other 10 years later under the same tumultuous sky, as magic beans push them towards the heavens.
The classic English folktale of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ is the focus of a new adaptation by Bryan Singer. Singer is best known for classics like ‘The Usual Suspects’ and has worked on numerous X-Men films, however his recent exploration of the realm mythos and giants leaves something to be desired in terms of the narrative and the world that is depicted on screen. By using a combination of natural and CGI crafted landscapes, the film attempts to take us into magical and far-off worlds, yet falls short of taking us there. Although elements of the film, particularly the overview shot of the kingdom, are reminiscent of sequences from the highly regarded HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’, the film lacks the same authenticity, style and attention to detail that a fantasy world filled with giants requires.
The original tale has captivated readers and audiences for over two hundred years and has even been woven into William Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’. ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ carries with it a legacy of storytelling that is undeniable as it has become a large part of historic and popular culture. This idea of a lasting narrative that has endured for centuries is alluded to at the end of the film, where the crown that can control the giants is incorporated and redesigned into the Crown Jewels of the British monarchy. Linking myth with an existing artifact adds a unique element to the storytelling. However, transposing elements of fantasy in real life isn’t very impactful within the film, because the fantasy world of Jack, the beanstalk and giants are not as believable as they could be, the cause of which is the uninspiring costumes, inconsistent acting and failure to create a magical world through the setting and dialogue of the film.
If you are searching for a compelling ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ experience it might be better to check out one of the countless adaptations of the folktale, rather than this most recent film. Audiences who were really looking forward to the film and feel an impending sense of nostalgia, can always watch the 1952 film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello, which can be found here. For those who are more interested in the cartoon versions of the tale, Disney has created numerous versions in 1922, 1942, 1947, 1951 and 1955. If Japanese animation is more your thing, then there is a 1974 feature-length film. Finally, for those who are a fan of visual culture and comic books, DC even issued a comic book about Jack and his adventures entitled ‘Jack of Fables’.
If perchance you’re not a fan of comedy, Japanese cartoons or comic books, there is always the option of seeking out other mythic movies. To make your search easier we have discovered a comprehensive list of films for your viewing pleasure, encompassing everything from the swords of Arthurian legend, the ravens of Norse mythology and the demi-gods of Greek mythology.