There’s little evidence of X-Men director Bryan Singer’s fantasy flair in JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (12: Warner), a flabby makeover of Jack And The Beanstalk.
He simply goes through the fairy-tale motions and the busy action fails to make any real impact due to its reliance on fake-looking CGI.
Nicholas Hoult is the farmhand who swaps his horse for a bag of magic beans and inadvertently starts a war between humans and man-eating ogres in the sky.
He then joins all the king’s men on a mission to save the kidnapped princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) that he’s fallen for. She’s trapped in the monsters’ realm, but one of the rescue group intends to betray them in a bid to seize the throne.
While the film offers up some nice vistas, with windmills in the moonlight and similar chocolate-box images, the spectacle is standard swashbuckling fare. The land of the giants resembling Shrek’s village doesn’t help either, although there are a few reasons to keep watching.
These include Stanley Tucci camping away as the hissable villain and knight Ewan McGregor being sausage-rolled up by a chef colossus.
> All-action, no-plot adventure sequel GI JOE: RETALIATION (12: Paramount) picks up on the ‘to be continued’ conclusion of GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra.
An elite military team is nearly wiped out after a terrorist organisation replaces the US president with an imposter and has them declared enemies of the state.
With Dwayne Johnson leading the surviving soldiers, aided by the original GI Joe (played by Bruce Willis on sleep-walking leave from The Expendables), they seek to clear their names, avenge their fallen comrades and halt Cobra’s surge to world domination. An indigestible stew of cheesy one-liners, perfunctory military battles and bland martial arts, this lumbering follow-up starts off on a dud note and simply goes downhill.
There’s zero energy, suspense or excitement generated by Step Up director Jon M. Chu. He dances around the fact he has a shambolic script with cardboard cut-outs wearing silly costumes to animate action that mostly exists to shove in outlandish vehicles taken from the Hasbro toy range.
The best sequence is an aerial assault on a Himalayan retreat by swooping ninja assassins.
> Modest, but often very moving, British film BROKEN (15: Studio Canal) marks the feature debut of theatre director Rufus Norris.
Newcomer Eloise Laurence stars as Skunk, an 11-year-old girl living in a suburban cul-de-sac with her single father (Tim Roth), older brother (Bill Milner) and their au pair (Zana Marjanovic).
Skunk’s life is normal and, except for her diabetes, uncomplicated, until her upstart teenage neighbours the Oswalds declare war on a young, emotionally damaged man (Robert Emms) who lives opposite.
A vicious lie gets out of hand, kick-starting a chain of events that results in violence and murder. It’s based on a novel inspired by To Kill A Mockingbird, but though it has elements of lurid melodrama, it’s the quiet moments that define this atmospheric film, making for an unusual coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of today’s “broken” Britain.