Starting out with a young Jack and young princess each being told their bedtime stories by their parents, the back-story is established how the Giants had come down from Giantland once before using magic beans to come down from the clouds and ravage the land of men, developing a taste for their blood, but had been defeated by the King creating a crown using dark magic and the heart of a giant which gives him control over them. He banishes them back to their land in the sky and destroys the beanstalk to keep them there, and when he dies, the crown and a few leftover beans are buried with him to be safely kept forever.
Jump forward 10 years and Jack is a handsome but simple young man living with his uncle who is struggling to survive after being charged with taking care of Jack after his father’s untimely passing. So when Jack is dispatched by his uncle to go to the village surrounding the castle to sell their only horse and cart to keep them from starving and to keep the roof over their head, Jack gets easily distracted by a minstrel show depicting the story of the giants, and suddenly finds himself standing up for the Princess’s honor when she is accosted by some hooligans at the show.Princess Isabella, played by Eleanor Tomlinson is instantly attracted to the young peasant but is quickly dragged back to the protection of the castle by the King’s guards, led by Ewan McGregor’s Elmont. She is betrothed to be wed to Lord Roderick, in spite of her lack of affection or attraction to the sleazy royal fiance. To spite her father and strike out on an adventure to prove she doesn’t need to be coddled and protected, the princess strikes out in the middle of the night, but gets caught in a bad thunderstorm and, seeing the dim light shining in the darkness from Jack’s house, she seeks refuge from the storm there, immediately recognizing him as her rescuer from earlier in the day.
When he had been distracted in the village, someone had stolen his cart leaving him only with the worn out horse to sell, and he is approached by a monk who has stolen the magic beans from Lord Roderick’s chambers after he had ransacked the tomb of the dead king, seeking to use the beans and crown for his own evil purposes. Jack reluctantly accepts the beans after being promised they are worth a fortune to the monks at the monastery if he safely takes them to the monks. Being a realist, his uncle was very upset and set out to the village himself to try to save his farm by selling Jack’s father’s last possessions, leaving Jack alone, until the princess arrives at his door. When his uncle gave the worthless beans a toss on the floor in his anger, one of the beans had fallen through a crack below the shack and while Jack had retrieved the rest, right before the princess arrived, the leaking water from the holes in the roof found its way down to the bean, and activated the magic and within seconds, the gigantic beanstalk was growing shoving the house skyward, taking the princess with it, as Jack loses his grip and falls back to earth.
When Jack climbs the gigantic beanstalk along with the King’s guards and Lord Roderick to rescue the princess, they discover that the stories they had heard as children were really true and they meet FEE, FYE, FOE, and FUMM, as well as the leader of the giants, Fallon, who has 2 heads.
The giants are thrilled to see men in their kingdom, having already captured the princess because they know that they can once again go to the world below and satisfy their gnawing hunger for humans and pillage the lands.
Lord Roderick wastes no time in using the giant controlling crown of King Eric to take control over the giants and prepares to launch his attack below with the giants’ help to rule both races. If you think too hard, you can easily find fault with the story, such as where does all of the water go that is pouring from the giant gargoyle type heads on the edge of the giants land, but if you accept that it is a fairytale land, it’s easy to overlook minor details like that. One problem that I’ve always noticed with any story involving gigantic beings, whether it’s the Transformer robots or Clash of the Titans or King Kong, is that sooner or later in the movie, the perspective of the giants compared to the humans or their surroundings changes and is inconsistent. In this movie, they got it right! Nicholas Hoult is a great actor coming from his success in the UK as Tony in the British TV series SKINS and most recently in the movie, “WARM BODIES” where he was the principal zombie.
If you just sit back and enjoy the story, appreciating the perspective that the 3D provides and the performances of Stanley Tucci and Ian McShane that are totally opposite of those they typically play, and hope that Jack & Isabella end up together and happily ever after, you will walk out with a smile on your face and you’ll think twice about that thunder the next time it storms outside!
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