Release Date(s)(2013) June 18, 2013
Studio(s)New Line/Legendary (Warner Bros.)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: C+
After being delayed close to a year from the summer of 2012, Jack the Giant Slayer was finally released into theaters this past March, albeit into the tornado of Oz: The Great and Powerful. A “Well, you don’t know the REAL story” retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale, Jack the Giant Slayer adds an ambitious court officer with the secret to the narrative, not to mention an army of giants, a princess, and a crazy castle battle. And now it’s available for you to enjoy at home on Blu-ray 3D.
As a 3D film, Jack the Giant Slayer is stunning. Shot in native 3D, every bit of furniture sticks out at you in stereoscopic space. A lot of creative people took a lot of time with this movie to make sure that every element had its own 3-coordinate space to shine, and it really shows. Not only is the 3D really effective for the low angle shots of the giants, but for me it gave a great sense of height by pushing the people on the ground far into the “background” of the giants’ POV shots. The fact that the 3D here is so hugely effective is a top reason why Blu-ray 3D fans should consider adding Jack to their collection.
By the way, one of the reported reasons for Jack’s delay to the spring was to allow more time to work on the special effects, and I really wonder how much of that was true. The biggest problem with Jack’s video is that it’s so sharp and clean. All of the CG giants stick out like store thumbs, and not always in the way you want them to. Sometimes putting people against a greenscreen just might be better than motion capture, and Jack is probably one of those cases.
While your peepers get a good workout with the 3D presentation, your ears are going to be humming right along with Jack’s fantastic soundtrack. Particularly impressive is the constant use of LFE in the mix, not just for thumping footsteps, but creaking beanstalks, rolling thunder, slamming gates and falling furniture. People used to talk a lot about “holosonic” surround mixes, but I think the better way to describe this one is “environmental”, in that it plops you into a breathing world and keeps you there. Little tweety birds fly across the surrounds, the wind whispers, there’s the rustle of branches – it’s very subtle and very effective, an A+ all around.
I think all longtime critics can agree that the first Harry Potter DVD was one of the most annoying titles in the history of bonus materials. Forcing you to play very slow-moving games to unlock extras was not fun, nor cool, and I don’t think the children of today are going to find it any more amusing to climb virtual beanstalks for run-of-the-mill tidbits here. Add on a few deleted scenes and a very PG rated gag reel and most people are probably just going to stick to the movie. Bryan Singer usually does pretty great commentary tracks, and I would have loved to hear one for Jack, so it’s a shame that this is one of his few films without one.
While critics didn’t go for this film and audiences (who might have found it) got distracted by the merry old land of Oz, perhaps now on disc people can gain an appreciation of this disposable fun. Frankly, I think that if they’d just hit the 90-minute runtime by having the movie end at a logical stopping point (and skipped the unnecessary “it’s a fantasy movie” battle scene that Oz so effectively poked fun at), Jack the Giant Slayer would be slicker, shorter, stronger and more memorable. The good thing is that now, on this great Blu-ray 3D disc, we can enjoy this movie for what it is: a fun romp where you’ll have a good time as long as you don’t think about it too much.
- Jeff Kleist