Jack the Giant Slayer Has Little Brain Power (2.5 stars)
What we have here is another live-action/CGI fairy tale adaptation/re-imagining that tackles the fabled Jack and the Beanstalk tale.
At the helm of this PG-13 monstrosity is director Bryan Singer (X-Men flicks, Superman Returns). Singer is a guy who heavily relies on the writing and acting. If one of those are lacking, then so is the overall entertainment value for that respective film. As talented as Singer is with physical choreography (fighting/battle sequences and set designs) he’s rarely been a guy that can coach-up a production. And that’s exactly what occurs here.
The generic story arc and characters (played by a talented bunch that includes Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, and Stanley Tucci) is so formulaic that the audience (grown-ups and the kiddies) will experience a numbing sensation. Sure the CGI provides some exploratory eye-candy – especially during the climactic battle where an army of giants storm (Chronicles of Narnia style) a storybook-like castle. Yet the climb (pun intended) to that sequence is just an empty vessel. It’s essentially a flick that you just “watch” as it lacks energy in all the other technical areas.
21 & Over is a Keg Full of Pleasure (4 stars)
This unapologetic one-night adventure isn’t groundbreaking by any stretch of the crude imagination. But it sure is R-rated fun.
Two polar opposite best friends from high school (Miles Teller and Skylar Astin) meet up on a massive college campus to take out their pre-med Asian pal (Justin Chon) for his 21st birthday. Only snag to this alcohol-laced plan is that said Asian pal has a live-or-die interview with a prestigious medical school at 8 a.m. But despite the lifelong expectations from his strict father (Francois Chau), he succumbs to the peer-pressure from his boys. And all college party-like hell breaks loose.
Combining delivery elements of “The Hangover,” “PCU,” and even a ‘80s cult flick such as “License to Drive,” this never loses its edge as it just plows through stereotypical shenanigan-after-shenanigan commonly found in raunchy college-setting screenplays. And the reason it induces frequent laughs is because the lead trio are just loaded (pun intended, again) with balanced chemistry, plus, the co-writers/directors (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore) are not afraid to cross any line via the dialogue and/or supporting characters’ actions.
Whether it’s racially insensitive or just plain vulgar, everyone just goes for it without any worry. Now there are some coming-of-age type subplots that are subtly woven in; and naturally there is a love interest (Sarah Wright). But these elements never offset, or better yet, never get in the way of, the brazen skits.
Jack the Giant Slayer and 21 & Over open in the Tampa Bay market on Friday.