Out in cinemas this week: A giant-killer, and a giant rip-off.
Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
It's nice to have fairy tales back as a vibrant strand of pop culture: how we tell these stories differently from others, past, and present, tells us about ourselves, and so feature film reenvisionings of classic stories (alongside hit TV series) are not only the stuff of comfort-film fantasy but part of the collective expression of what our fantasies are. Brian Singer, making his first feature film as a director since Valkyrie and Superman Returns, two movies that may not have enhanced his reputation but must have been significant learning experiences, seems to have cast this one primarily as a gathering of interesting faces, a good way to approach fantasy—not only to we have Ian McShane and Eddie Marson on the craggy side and Ewan McGregor and Nick Hoult on the sharp side, but further down the cast list are such dustinctive mugs as Bill Nighy and Ben Daniels; and that can be seen as a good omen, if you consider that that was his starting point for what may still be his best film as a director (The Usual Suspects, for which the script rewriter here, Christopher McQuarrie, won an Oscar). The release date was moved from June 2012 to0 make room for the Dark Knight Rises and to be able to trail off The Hobbit; less clear is why the studio renamed it from the empre emphatic Jack the Giant Killer.
The story: The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when Jack, a young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of a princess, opens a gateway between the two worlds.
Starring: Nicholas Hoult (Jack), Eleanor Tomlinson (Isabelle), Ewan McGregor (Elmont), Stanley Tucci (Roderick), Eddie Marsan (Crawe), Ewen Bremner (Wicke), Ian McShane (King Brahmwell), Christopher Fairbank (Uncle), Simon Lowe (Monk), Mingus Johnston (Bald), Ralph Brown (General Entin), Joy McBrinn (Old Maid), Chris Brailsford (Blacksmith), Warwick Davis (Old Hamm).
Directed by: Bryan Singer.
Written by: Darren Lemke and Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney.
Jurassic Attack (2013)
I'm really only mentioning this low-budget indie from a new house started by longtime B-movie toiler Anthony Fankhauser for two reasons: the name, which nakedly displays its debt to a certain other film (in the trailer, you'll notice that even the font it's displayed in has been stolen), and the fact that Corin Nemec plays a character named Colonel Carter.
The story: While returning from a military expedition a helicopter crash lands a commando unit in a dense, remote tropical jungle—a lost world populated by dinosaurs. Now they must find a way out of this isolated valley before becoming prey for prehistoric predators.
Starring: Vernon Wells, Gary Stretch, Alicia Ziegler, Corin Nemec, Michael Worth.
Directed by: Anthony Fankhauser (2012: Supernova).
Written by: Rafael Jordan ( Annihilation Earth, Hammer of the Gods).