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Film / Jack the Giant Slayer

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"Fee fi fo fumm, ask not whence the thunder comes. Ask not where the herds have gone, or why the birds have ceased their song. When coming home, don't take too long, for monsters roam in Albion."

Jack the Giant Slayer (originally titled Jack the Giant Killer) is a 2013 fantasy action adventure film, starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane and Bill Nighy. It is directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie.

In this film based on the folk tale Jack and the Beanstalk, a young farm boy is given a bunch of magic beans that lead to a land in the sky inhabited by giants. When the princess of the nearby kingdom is taken by the giants, Jack teams up with the king's men to rescue her.

The original title referenced another "Jack" folk tale which is quite different from Jack and the Beanstalk despite similar elements.

This film provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Elmont is the most brave and capable of the Guardians, and holds Jack in low esteem at first.
  • Always Save the Girl: Averted. Brahmwell decides to cut down the beanstalk to save the kingdom, even if it means his daughter will be left trapped with the Giants.
  • Arrows on Fire: Archers use lit arrows to ignite oil spread on the moat.
  • Ax-Crazy: Wicke comes off as just slightly unhinged during a lot of his screen time. Whenever Roderick gives him the cue to either kill someone or that he's going to do it himself, he reacts with glee and excitement, and even when that's not happening, he's usually trembling and/or smiling eagerly about doing whatever it is they're planning to do next.
  • Babies Ever After: The film opens with Jack hearing stories from his dad about the long-ago war with the giants. It ends with Jack and the Princess—now safely married and living in the palace—telling stories of their own adventures to their children.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: Elmont and Roderick just love lampshading Fairy Tale tropes and referencing the original story.
  • Big Bad: General Fallon, the leader of giants.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Roderick is quick out of the proverbial gate, but fades in the stretch.
  • Big "NO!": Done by Fallon after the beanstalk is chopped down. Fortunately for him, he finds the rest of the beans.
  • Butt-Monkey: After Jack and Elmont place a bee's nest in a sleeping giant's helmet, the giant awakens in a panic, struggling to remove his helmet and groans "Why do these things always happen to me?!"
  • The Cameo: Warwick Davis appears during the beginning of the film. Ian McKellen also makes a vocal cameo in one of the first theatrical trailers reading a quote, which is also placed in the film's climax in which generations of people tell the story of Jack.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Jack saved that one last bean... and then uses it to kill Fallon at the climax.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: At one point Elmont is rolled in raw dough and placed in an oven to be cooked as an hors d'oeuvre. When he frees himself a few minutes later, he's not even sweating, despite the fact that the dough he was inside visibly cooked while he was freeing himself.
  • Cooking the Live Meal: In the giants' kitchen, a giant cook wraps the captive Elmont (fully clothed and conscious) up in dough and places him in an oven to be baked as a pig in a blanket. He is however able to cut himself free and climb out of the hot oven thanks to a knife given to him by Jack.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The castle portcullis consists of two metal gates that slide together — which means it takes longer to close, and is much easier to force open, than a normal portcullis.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: In the final confrontation, while the Giants are too powerful and numerous to be driven back, the knights are able to take down a few of them with high-powered automatic crossbows before the weapons are destroyed.
  • Cut the Safety Rope: To show how much of a jerk he is, Roderick tells Wicke to cut the safety rope connecting him to the Guardians that fell of the beanstalk during a storm thus sending them to their doom.
    Roderick: Wicke! Wicke! I think it's time to lighten the load!
  • Damsel in Distress: Isabelle getting captured by the giants is what sets the plot in motion.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Elmont. He is played by Ewan McGregor.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Jack's father and Isabelle's mother are both very decent people. Jack's father comforts Jack when's he frightened by a storm. Isabelle's mother encourages her to go on adventures and to be the best she can be.
  • Disney Villain Death: The giant with the helmet suffers this. Though we do get to see the result of the giant's fall.
  • Distant Finale: The Giant's crown is St. Edward's crown shown at ending.
  • The Dragon: Wicke for Roderick and Fumm for Fallon.
  • Epic Flail: Fallon wields a truly enormous specimen.
  • Evil Chancellor: Roderick.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Stanley Tucci is in non-stop ham mode as Roderick. For the giants, being hammy is almost a requirement.
  • Eye Scream: One of the eyeballs in Fallon's miniature head shoots out during his death
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Fallon has a beanstalk grow from within him, causing his body to burst and send giant chunks of him flying. Also, several humans are either crushed under foot or have their heads bitten off.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Averted — "Albion" appears to be quite clearly based on medieval England, but the Flash Forward ending reveals that "Albion" is in fact present-day England. As a clue, Albion is the ancient name for Britain.
  • Feed It a Bomb: Or in this case, a magic bean which sprouts into a giant beanstalk once it hits Fallon's stomach juice.
  • Fighting Irish: General Fallon and the other giants are all portrayed with Irish accents (except for Fallon's second head, which doesn't talk very much).
  • Fire-Forged Friends: At their first meeting, Elmont is not impressed by this bumpkin Jack. After Jack rescues him and Isabelle from being cooked by a giant and they subsequently send another giant plummeting to his death, Elmont gives Jack a King's Guard badge, saying, "You've earned it."
  • Genre Savvy: Elmont shows a surprising amount of this during his battle with Roderick:
    "I may not be the hero of this story, but at least I get to see how it ends!"
  • The Good King: The king is a pretty decent guy. Aside from one serious blind spot early on, he's a good leader who handles himself well, deals with his subjects fairly, and isn't above hard labor right alongside the common soldiers when necessary. He also shows remarkable restraint when dealing with Jack, refraining from trying to intimidate him once it's clear there's some chemistry between him and the Princess. Not to mention he insists on fighting alongside the guards when the Giants attack, and gives Elmont a "Hell no!" when asked to leave.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The film always cuts away whenever the giants devour the humans, only allowing the viewer to hear the sounds. Also when Fallon explodes, there's no blood or gore, just a few pieces.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Averted. Both sides use pretty smart tactics in the final battle, including a burning moat that the humans use for defense.
    • To help clarify:
      • The burning moat is done by the humans to deny the giants clear access, forcing them to try and open the drawbridge. The whole final battle revolves around the drawbridge.
      • The giants decide to throw heavy things at the wall in an attempt to sabotage the drawbridge levers and to deny the humans cover when firing at them. The humans respond by trying to ensure that the levers remain still with timber braces.
      • When machinery fails, they resort to pulling the drawbridge closed themselves, resulting in a tug of war between the two sides. In response, the giants set trees on fire and throw those over the walls to undermine their efforts.
      • The humans shoot at the giants with rapid-fire ballistas and scorpions, specifically targeting the tree throwers and the giants pulling at the drawbridge. The giants immediately decide to target the weapons with giant-sized slingshots and thrown weapons.
      • Finally, the giants wear the human side down on the tug of war and use a combined effort to force the drawbridge open. The humans respond by closing the portcullis and falling back to a more defensible location to bottleneck the giants. The portcullis doesn't work long, but A for effort and quick thinking. They resolve to do a Last Stand, but there's no need.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Wicke asks Roderick, after just pushing a soldier to his death, "Why do people always bother screaming before they die?". Ironically, a giant grabs him moments later, and he screams until said giant bites his head off.
  • Idiot Hero: Jack is a wide-eyed and somewhat gullible farmboy who nevertheless grows to be a true hero.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Whilst the giants can eat animals, and presumably vegetables, they like human flesh even more and are shown devouring people several times throughout the film.
  • Ironic Echo: "There's something behind me, isn't there?"
  • Karmic Death: Roderick is killed by Elmont after the former attempted to push the latter to his death out of the cave.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to other recent fairy tale films such as Snow White & the Huntsman, Red Riding Hood and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, and to the fairy tale itself, where Jack is actually quite the criminal.
  • Logo Joke: The Bad Hat Harry logo has five giants walking in place of the silhouetted lineup of The Usual Suspects.
  • Loophole Abuse: Whoever wears the crown of King Erik controls the giants. However, this does not make them entirely obedient, and they could find ways of killing the wearer of the crown indirectly, or simply standing by and allowing the wearer to be killed.
    • To expand on this, it appears that the giants have to obey the wearer of the crown only when a direct command is given, and even then they can choose exactly how to carry out that order and at what pace. Roderick orders the giants to "help [him]" during his fight with Elmont and the giants technically do, but in the slowest manner possible so that he's already dead by the time they get to him. Fallon is unable to ask for help in getting out of the burning moat due to the pain so Fumm and the others leave him to his fate.
  • Meaningful Name: Squicky example: one of the Guardians, Crawe, is eaten alive by Fallon. A "craw" is a stomach or gullet, and Crawe ends up in one. In fact, it's probably his skeleton that is briefly glimpsed inside Fallon's stomach when the tracking shot follows the last bean into the General's belly.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: This is the reason why Isabelle is the only female in the film, as the director did not want any women to be seen killed.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Jack and Isabelle are introduced to us as kids being read a bed time story about giants.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The golden harp from the fairy tale can be seen a handful of times throughout the film.
    • An egg (though jeweled instead of gold like the tale) can also be seen on the table as Jack is speaking to his children in the final moments of the film. Jack picked it up earlier in the film.
  • A Mythology Is True: The ending flashes forward to present day London, with King Eric's crown now incorporated into the Crown Jewels at The Tower, showing that the original fairy tale is based on actual historical fact! A clue to this is revealed early on — the land is called "Albion", the ancient name for the British Isles.
  • Myth Prologue: At the start of the movie, Jack's father tells him a story about mankind journing to the sky via giant beanstalks. They found some evil giants and cut down the beanstalks so they won't eat mankind.
  • Near-Miss Groin Attack: This happens to Elmont as the giants are preparing to eat him.
  • The Needs of the Many: King Brahmwell fears for his daughter's life, but is forced to have the beanstalk cut down before she can make it down safely, to prevent the giants from climbing down to Earth. When Jack saves her life and reunites her with her father, Brahmwell is visibly relieved. What he says to Jack as he gives him a bag of gold for his efforts shows how much his daughter means to him:
    "As a king, I can offer much in reward. As a father, I can never reward you enough."
  • Never Trust a Title: Apart from the title and the presence of a two-headed giant, this story mostly takes after the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale as opposed to Jack the Giant Killer. Furthermore, despite the title, Jack only directly kills two giants: the giant cook and Fallon (since the helmet-wearing giant died mostly due to his own clumsiness, he doesn't really count).
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Subverted when Jack and Isabelle are on the falling beanstalk; they swing on a smaller vine to convert their downward momentum to horizontal momentum and slide along the ground. Played straight with Elmont on the same beanstalk; he jumps off closer to the ground and lands safely in some Soft Water.
  • Oh, Crap!: The best description of the humans' reaction when they realise the giants are coming down to Albion; Jack spends an unspecified amount of time frantically racing after the king, Isabelle and the knights to warn them, and Isabelle's expression shifts from glee at seeing Jack to dread when she hears what he's yelling even before the giants appear.
  • One-Gender Race: In the entirety of the film, there is not one single female giant seen. Even in the giant's fortress, it's inhabited only by males. Though their fortress being occupied only by males could be justified, since it is most likely a military garrison.
    • The filmmakers have mentioned in an interview that there was at one point female giants in early stages of the script, but were cut out mainly because the director didn't want to have Jack kill any of them.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Ben Daniels' (Fumm) atrocious mishmash of Irish and Scottish manages to make Bill Nighy's (Fallon) sound almost natural.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: An attempt ("Did you really think you were the hero of this story? Don't you know we all think that?") followed by one that works ("I may not be the hero of this story, but at least I get to see how it ends!").
  • Precision F-Strike / Curse Cut Short: Fallon's right head, which is mostly unintelligible, very nearly says a curse word before he explodes after Jack drops a bean down Fallon's throat, causing it to grow from inside him and kill him.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The giants are long lived, with many being the original invaders during their first invasion of Earth.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: See The Good King, above.
    • Also Elmont, the captain of the Guardians. He'll put a good scare in Jack for not kneeling when he's supposed to—but when the Princess goes missing, Elmont remembers that Jack was the peasant who'd stand up to bullies to protect a strange girl whom he didn't even know was the princess. He vouches for Jack with the King when it counts.
  • Red Shirt Army: The majority of the guardians who climb up the beanstalk to rescue Isabelle don't even make it up the beanstalk before facing their demise. All the others are killed by the giants quickly. Doesn't help that most of the Guardians are wearing red shirts.
  • Right Behind Me: "There's something behind me, isn't there?" is used twice (see 'Ironic Echo' above).
    • Jack thinks the bullies are really scared of him after he defends the princess. But its the Elmont and the Royal Guardians they're scared of, and he realizes it.
    • Elmont himself says it when the giant army is about destroy the same Guardians, and they stop for no apparent reason. Jack is behind the Guardians with the Crown. Hence the Ironic Echo.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: King Brahmwell fights alongside his men during the final battle with the giants, joins the soldiers tugging on the lanyards to secure the drawbridge and refuses to flee when things look hopeless.
    Elmont: Get the king to safety!
    King Brahmwell: (pulls out his sword) Like hell!
  • Scared of What's Behind You: At a play, Jack comes to the aid of woman being harassed by some thugs. When they start apologising, Jack thinks that he scared them… failing to notice the group of armed soldiers riding up behind him.
    Jack: (Sees everyone bowing down in fear) There's something behind me, isn't there?
  • Sequel Hook: More of an in-world sequel, unlikely to be filmed. Near the end of the film, set in modern day London, a boy named Rodey grins maniacally at the royal crown (actually the crown of King Erik), carries with him a backpack similar to Roderick's and looks a lot like him (the teeth!). This heavily implies that he is a descendant of Roderick (or at least a descendant of any siblings or cousins Roderick may have had, as he never had any children himself) and plans to do what his ancestor did centuries ago.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To the infamous "NOT THE BEES!" scene from The Wicker Man (2006).
    • And to Star Wars, with Ewan McGregor (AKA Obi-Wan Kenobi) saying the famous Catchphrase, "I have a bad feeling about this".
    • The golden harp, shown at least three times in the film, heavily resembles the one in the Mickey and the Beanstalk short in Fun and Fancy Free.
    • The king (Ian McShane) is announced by someone saying "The King approaches". That's also how he was announced in Kings.
    • At one point, one of the giants uses a windmill as a weapon.
  • Stupid Evil: Rodrick does a lot of actions just to show what an evil Jerkass he is; he has his sidekick send four soldiers to their death which in-turn leaves the group with barely any rations. And then he goes out of his way to throw another one off a cliff for no reason despite knowing he's in a hostile territory and could use the protection until he seized control.
    • Debatable: He wanted to control the giants with the crown, and the fewer people who could challenge him for it, the better. Except for his henchmen, all the others were disposable, and rescuing the princess was just the perfect excuse for going up the beanstalk.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Other than her mother's brief appearance early on and her and Jack's daughter at the end, Isabelle is pretty much the only female character.
  • Standard Hero Reward: Jack marries Isabelle at the end of the movie, although this is more a case of King Brahmwell recognizing that his daughter has chosen Jack after her arranged fiancee Roderick betrayed the kingdom. Played with briefly when Brahmwell gives Jack a purse full of gold coins for saving Isabelle, and implies that he would happily give more;
    "As a king, I can offer much in reward. As a father, I can never reward you enough."
  • The Starscream: Fumm clearly doesn't care for Fallon and goes out of his way not to help him when Fallon falls into the fire moat.
  • Toilet Humor: While not constant, the giants do fart, belch and pick their noses, forgivable because they are portrayed as being grotesque creatures.
  • The Unintelligible: Fallon's smaller head's speech is almost entirely incomprehensible.
  • Undignified Death: Roderick. He screams for the giants to help him before being forced to fight back against Elmont. And after Elmont fatally wounds him, he screams at the giants for help again, several times, before he finally dies. Truly pathetic.
  • Visual Pun: When the cooking giant is making pigs in a blanket, he uses actual pigs instead of sausages.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jack's uncle is never seen again after Jack joins the king's men to climb up the beanstalk. It's implied by his harshness with him prior to this scene that he hated Jack for putting a burden on him and left him to his fate. However, deleted scenes show him turn up just before the climax of the film; Jack gives him all of the gold he earlier received and tells him where to find the horse.
  • When Trees Attack: The Beanstalk.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Roderick accuses Elmont of this during their fight - of thinking he's the fair knight hero of the story. Ironically, Roderick himself is the only one really deluded: he thinks he's the Big Bad and that Elmont is just a bug to be squashed, when really he's just tiding things over until the real Big Bad takes command - tellingly, after he dies and the giants get the crown, they march over him to Albion as though he isn't there at all.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Roderick is dead, the princess is saved, the beanstalk has been chopped down, stranding the giants in their land... Shame on you if you expected the movie to end at this point.