Jack the Giant Slayer, 21 and Over and three valuable documentaries reviewed

Jack and the Beanstalk becomes a giant 3D spectacle, but not for little kids.

Just one more thought on the shoddy Academy Award show. The worst part was invisible. During the In Memoriam segment, how could they not include Petro Vlahos? Who? Exactly, but they knew who he was. They gave him five awards over his long career in visual effects. He perfected the blue and green screen process that let Ben Hur race that chariot, Dick Van Dyke dance with penguins, made Star Wars, Avatar and just about every special effects film possible. I’d say he’s has had more effect on modern movies than a hundred agents and money men but last Sunday ... not even a photograph.

Here are this week’s films:

Jack the Giant Slayer: 3 stars

Trouble in the Peace:  4

The House I Live In:  4 ½

The Gatekeepers:  4

21 and Over:  2

Spaghetti Westerns: --

3 films I’ve not seen:  The Movie Out Here,

The Suicide Shop and The Last Exorcism, part 2

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER:  Brian Singer, the director of The Usual Suspects and two X-Men movies (and a 3rd coming) stooping to make a movie out of Jack and the Beanstalk? Not quite. He fills out the simple fairy tale with an old story from Cornwall about another Jack who kills giants. Then he wrangles the latest visual effects, a cast of well-known actors and a soaring imagination to deliver this mammoth adventure.  It’s definitely not for young kids; too scary, giants intent on the “sweet nectar of revenge” and lines like “Kill him, Jack” tossed around. Nine-year-old boys (and older) will enjoy.

Jack  (Nicholas Hoult, the zombie in Warm Bodies) is sent to sell a horse. A monk gives him some magic beans for it and cautions don’t get them wet. Of course they get wet, spawn a beanstalk that carries a princess up into the sky where the giants have been banished and want release. Jack joins a royal guard (Ewen McGregor) and a conniving official (Stanley Tucci)  to go up to find her. The real action happens when the giants come down. We get giant battle scenes, not unlike Lord of the Rings, and a visual effects homage to Ray Harryhausen the man who gave us skeletons sword-fighting on a beach and other wonders years ago. Singer captures the spirit of his work and the sense of wonder and rich ambience of old story books. Size differences allow him to make great use of perspective and 3-D. With few surprises in the story, it’s not a classic film of its type  but, thanks to its look, almost a contender. (Scotiabank, The Dolphin and many suburban theatres) 3  out of 5 

TROUBLE IN THE PEACE: As the BC government hitches so much more of our economic future to natural gas, here’s a stark reminder of one consequence. Call it collateral damage. Farmers in the Peace River area are being crowded aside by the industry, the gas wells, the exploration,  trucks on their rural roads and, according to some, illness caused by the sour gas that is burned off at night in eerie flares that light up the horizon. We’ve heard about this for some time. A film about Wiebo Ludwig a couple of years ago also covered it. There were bombings and big protests in his day. Today there seems to be more resignation than resistance and the film doesn’t even get to the hot topic of fracking.


More in New Movies

New vs old in Birds of Passage; an easy look at a killer sickness in Five Feet Apart and a good one for the kids, Wonder Park

And lots more: hippies try farming, a divorcé seeks love, melodrama and politics in Argentina and a dystopian teen thriller with something of a Handmaid’s Tale vibe

Watching that new female super hero, more women in film and that giant leap for mankind

Also Peter Bogdanovich’s ode to a genius of movie comedy, the great Buster Keaton

Chloe meets Greta, Ruben Brandt steals art and Jean-Luc Godard ponders the state of the world in his Image Book

Also dancers on an acid trip in Climax and four other movies not available for review
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