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The ancient war between humans and a race of giants is reignited when Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a young farmhand fighting for a kingdom and the love of Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), opens a gateway between the two worlds.

Review by Louise Keller:
A fairy tale about a simple farm boy turns into a 3D spectacle of impressive proportions with grandiose special effects, a top cast and an evergreen story in which bravery, honour and love come up trumps. Fee fi fo fum, unsurprisingly it is the gigantic that dominates the action, ranging from an impressive, gnarled beanstalk that writhes its way dramatically beyond the clouds, to the intimidating giants imbued with primitive ugliness (an extra head perched disconcertingly on its General's right shoulder). While the story elements are familiar, Valkyrie director Bryan Singer orchestrates this ambitious and entertaining production with assurance, delivering beyond expectations, guaranteeing its family audience a romping good time.

The twin stories of a young farm boy with a keen imagination and a princess yearning for adventure are juxtaposed in parallel as a prelude to the main event, when 10 years hence, they are destined to meet and their fates intertwine. Building a strong repertoire since his impressive debut at 13 in About A Boy (2002), Nicholas Hoult makes a likeable Jack, who is easily distracted and finds himself with a handful of magic beans instead of the cash from selling his uncle's horse and cart, while Eleanor Tomlinson (The Illusionist, 2006) is feminine yet feisty and regal as Princess Isabelle.

The adventure involving a magic crown, a Viking myth and a colony of monstrous giants intent on claiming the kingdom and the world at large, begins in earnest when one of the magic beans gets wet and sprouts in terrifying fashion, soaring through the clouds to the land of the giants and taking with it, Jack's humble farm house in which Isabelle is trapped.

Bill Nighy is unrecognisable as the giant troll-like General with bad teeth and pained expression, while John Kassir plays the General's second, smaller head that comically agrees with his other self using strange sounds and eye-movements. Stanley Tucci, with dishevelled hair and a supercilious look is the ambitious, duplicitous nobleman betrothed to Isabelle. Ewan McGregor is handsome and heroic as Isabelle's unflappable, loyal bodyguard.

Watch for the kitchen scene when McGregor is rolled up in giant pastry and placed on an oven tray beside two similarly pastry-clad pigs - in readiness for baking and to be chomped on as snacks. The ensuing stabbing and other moments of violence, as indicated by the film's M classification, are not suitable for a very young audience.

All stops are pulled out for the lengthy climactic sequence in which flaming arrows, boiling oil and the demolition of the royal palace's catacombs take place as a full throttle spectacle, offering edge of the seat thrills. The proportions of the characters in relation to the giants are well depicted and the production design is excellent. The visuals are fabulous and perfectly in keeping with the tale's fantasy elements. The story strands taper and conclude nicely beyond the happily ever after scenario, providing a clever and thought provoking present-day ending.

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(US, 2013)

CAST: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner, Ian McShane

PRODUCER: Bryan Singer, David Dobkin, Ori Marmur, Patrick McCormick, Neal H. Moritz

DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Newton Thomas Sigel

EDITOR: Bob Ducsay, John Ottman

MUSIC: John Ottman


RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes



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