½*/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras D
starring Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor
screenplay by Darren Lemke and Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney
directed by Bryan Singer
by Walter Chaw There's an interesting moment early on in Bryan Singer's Jack the Giant Slayer, but don't get used to it. It's a cross-cut sequence wherein peasant Jack (Nicholas Hoult) and princess Isabelle (absolutely adorable Eleanor Tomlinson) reveal they're both products of neglect and the devastation of a parent lost too young. This unites them in strife and turmoil (in the way that wasn't properly addressed by the Mako/Raleigh team-up in Pacific Rim) to (likewise) battle monsters of the theoretical Id (Oedipus is the first guess, Electra the second), here literal giants in a cloud-shrouded kingdom, accessed by a priapic growth sprouting in the dead of night. It's the only time the film identifiably belongs to Bryan Singer, a maker of large films nonetheless invested in personal, intimate deconstructions. People in my world are neatly divided between the ones who didn't like Singer's Superman Returns and the ones who are right. I want to believe that movie is the reason why Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, and Ian McShane said "yes" to Jack the Giant Slayer, and not because Tucci, McGregor, and McShane are already just filthy impulses cashing paychecks à la 1980s Michael Caine.