Posts Tagged ‘Nicholas Hoult


Review: Jack the Giant Slayer


When it was announced that Hollywood was going to turn the folktale ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ into a feature length film, like everyone else I was a bit skeptical about its success. However, once The Usual Suspects and X-Men director Bryan Singer was attached to direct the picture I definitely was a little intrigued and even a bit hopeful that this adaptation could be something worth watching. Alas, this isn’t the case as Jack the Giant Slayer is just the latest in a string of fairy tale/folktale stories that we heard as kids turned into a just ok movie.

The core problem with Jack the Giant Slayer is that nothing really stands out to grab you. Not the story, not the acting, not the visuals, nothing. While there are some exciting moments and a few times where integrations of practical effects and CGI are pretty cool; there are not enough moments like these to sustain the entire film. With nothing to really latch onto, at no point was I ever really blown away or heavily invested in what was going on in the film.

Be prepared to look into the face of very bad computer generated images.

Be prepared to look into the face of very bad computer generated images.

What really stood out to me though was the terrible CGI used to create the ‘look’ of the giants. Designed a little cartoon-ish and cavemen like they did not look great at all and came off looking cheap. Being a fantasy film, one with the word “Giant” in the title, it’s a given that there will have to be some suspension of disbelief on behalf of the viewer. No amount of this could help me believe in these unrealistic giants; not even Bill Nighy who’s menacing voice was used for the lead giant.

I guess what it boils down to was that the giants looked like poorly animated characters from a bad Saturday morning cartoon. Their looks did not hint at any of the reported $195 million dollar budget that this film is carrying. I know that most viewers can spot visual effect magic a mile a way; but there are awesome examples of great CGI characters in bad films like the Tharks in last year’s John Carter or even Jar Jar Binks back in the Star Wars prequels.

Good times before this whole beanstalk thing.

Good times before this whole beanstalk thing.

On the positive side there are some bright spots to Jack the Giant Slayer. As I previously mentioned, there’s some good integration between set work and visual effects work, most notably in places where the beanstalk is involved. There were a few reminders of Honey I Shrunk the Kids more than a few times as our heroes were climbing the beanstalk–which I loved. Also, in a few scenes where the beanstalk is coming down I thought there was some great action there as well between real life actors, animals, practical beanstalk props, and the visual effects.

Now now kids . . . I'll show you how to climb this beanstalk.

Now now kids . . . I’ll show you how to climb this beanstalk.

While Nicholas Hoult was ‘warm’ and affectionate in his last outing Warm Bodies (review here), he did not bring anything to the table this time around. The highlight of the entire film had to have been Ewan McGregor. Having proven his blue and green screen acting chops with the Star Wars prequels; he looked the most believable out of all the actors in the film. In fact, McGregor was chewing on scenery a number of times and looked to be having fun doing so. I enjoyed his character the most and was entertained almost every time he was on screen.

When it comes right down to it, Bryan Singer was in a tough spot when he took over production on Jack the Giant Slayer from the original director, the effects of which can still be felt in the film that is now in theaters. Tonally, I’m not sure who the right audience for the film is and I’m not sure the film does either. Sure it has some great action sequences and some funny lines; but it also has crude humor that got old after a while as well as crummy looking giants. While Jack the Giant Slayer is not a bad movie, it might be more of a mediocre one. For the man that made us fearful of Keyser Söze and jumped started the superhero genre; this film is more in line with Superman Returns and Valkyrie–films of his that no one hardly mentions anymore.

 Jack the Giant Slayer is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Rating 2/5 stars // PG-13 // 1hr 35min


Review: Warm Bodies

Ruh-roh . . . the world didn't end in 2012, but looks like hunky zombies will start to take over 2013.

Ruh-roh . . . the world didn’t end in 2012, but looks like hunky zombies will start to take over 2013.

With Young Adult literature adaptations being all the rage these days and studios snatching up books left and right, Warm Bodies seems like the perfect fodder for a sure fire hit from the studio that brought us the Twilight Saga. I mean, it’s got everything in the formula that draws people to these books: an unlikely relationship, young love being tested under extreme circumstances, and oh yeah . . . ZOMBIES!

The unlikely protagonist of the film is “R” (Nicholas HoultX-Men: First Class), a zombie unlike any other you’ve met. For one thing, he’s got an inner conscience and monologue more akin to Ferris Bueller, and at the end of the day he goes home to his airplane where he listens to vinyl records. Well one day R meets the very much alive Julie (Theresa Palmer, I Am Number Four) and becomes smitten after an encounter with Julie’s boyfriend. From that point on a bond begins to grow between the two that not only has a profound impact on R, but everyone around him as well.

Aw, remember when we had polaroids before the apocalypse?

Aw, remember when we had polaroids before the apocalypse?

Now let’s be real here, this is a zombie love story. That is the central premise of the film and if you’re at all a zombie purist, you probably won’t like this film. I was a little doubtful myself going into the film, I mean, “A zombie falling in love with a human? Come on!” However, the film does a pretty good job of setting up the plausibility of this circumstance and Hoult and Palmer do an equally good job of building the relationship between R and Julie. Since this isn’t you’re typical romance movie, their reactions feelings seemed pretty spot on and by the end of the film I bought in to the relationship even though there were times were it definitely seemed creepy.

However, it’s not all love and romance. If anything, Warm Bodies is more of a romantic comedy with zombies so there is human-on-zombie and zombie-on-zombie action. In fact, the film introduces to a second type of zombie: Boneys. What separates Boneys from regular zombies? Boneys are basically zombies that have gone crazy, are pretty mean, have ripped off all their flesh, and attack anything with a heartbeat. In the film regular zombies are played by real life actors while Boneys are all done through visual effects. While I liked the idea and difference between these two zombie species, you could totally tell the Boneys were computer creations and not that believable  Despite the unbelievability, I got where the filmmakers were going with this as this Boneys did provide an obstacle (and action sequences) for both the regular zombies and humans.

Yes, believe it or not this zombie love story flick does have zombie hordes.

Yes, believe it or not this zombie love story flick does have zombie hordes.

If you’re looking for a perfect date movie, you might find it in Warm Bodies. It’s got hunky Nicholas Hoult with a pretty decent love story for the girls, and you have zombies and action for the guys. It’s also got some good humor that I’m sure both parties will find laughs in. Not only is R’s inner monologue hilarious and awkward, but R’s zombie friend M (Rob Corddry, Hot Tub Time Machine) delivers some great one liners as well.

On the whole I was entertained by Warm Bodies, but at the end of the day it didn’t do all that much for me. While the story is cute and funny, there’s nothing really outstanding about it, any of the performances from the cast, or even visuals in the film. The biggest thing going for the film is that it challenges the audience to believe a relationship can develop between a human and a zombie, which I give credit to the story, is something different. However, I didn’t feel there was too much more there than that.

Warm Bodies is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Rating 3/5 stars // PG-13 // 1hr 38min

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