The super dark fairy tale is a relatively new genre that is making its presence felt on the small and big screens.
Recent movies such as “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” and television programs including “Once Upon a Time,” are Hollywood cases in point.
It appears that some traditional fairy tales have mutated into entertainment fare with distinctly adult themes, the latest of which is this past weekend’s top box-office film, “Jack the Giant Slayer,” a sci-fi fantasy action movie loosely adapted from the children’s story “Jack and the Beanstalk.”
The filmmakers have taken the classic bedtime tale, mixed in 3-D technology, some computer generated images, and a dose of romance, and have come up with a feature-length Hollywood release, although the box-office take thus far has been less than expected in light of the huge production budget.
The storyline of “Jack the Giant Slayer” is so far-removed from the tale of old that some folks are going to have a hard time recognizing it. The revised plot ultimately leads to the main character Jack fighting to save the world from an invading force, a fearsome race of giants from another world who set out to devour their human opponents, literally.
The film gives a nod to the original tale in its opening, featuring an enhanced version of the story being told simultaneously to two young children, a princess and a farm boy.
The saga, complete with magic beans, an enormous beanstalk and an imposing giant, is presented as a legendary tale, but there is an added storyline about an ancient war that took place in the past between giants and humans. The humans were victorious and the giants had been banished to a separate realm where they were lying in wait for the opportunity to reclaim the territory that they had lost.
Fast forward a decade and the same farm boy Jack (played by Nicholas Hoult of “X-Men: First Class”), has graduated to a full-fledged farmer in his own right. Jack’s romantic interest, the now grown up Princess Isabelle (portrayed by Eleanor Tomlinson), has been ordered by her father, the reigning king (played by Ian McShane), to marry the unctuous Roderick (played by Stanley Tucci).
Roderick has managed to get hold of authentic magic beans, which open the door to the whole world of the giants. He devises a scheme to take over the earth by becoming the leader of the giants so he can use them as a conquering army.
Before the final credits roll, Jack must rescue the princess, defeat the giants, and ultimately save the world, all of which makes for a fast moving flick with plenty of twists and turns.
As would be expected, the visual effects cause things of all sorts to leap off the screen. The upward emergent beanstalk is an especially stunning computer generated creation, as is the strange landscape in the domain of the giants.
The giants themselves are represented on the 3-D screen as ominous monsters covered with disgusting warts and, in the case of one in particular, a second head. Needless to say, the production techniques make it seem all too real.
Parents and grandparents who are contemplating taking young ones to see this film would be wise to reconsider. The super dark fairy tale genre is confusing for children and even for some tenderhearted adults, and may very well be terrifying to them. The added intensity of the violence, particularly the gruesomeness of the giants who consume human beings as if they were finger food, is more than the eyes of the little ones can handle.
“Jack the Giant Slayer” has been given a PG-13 rating, an appropriate one considering the scenes that contain brutality, horrifying imagery, and intense language.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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