I’ve become so inured to Hollywood’s formula about movies releasing — “good” blockbusters reserved for summer and post-Thanksgiving; crap scheduled for Labor Day weekend and early January; expensive duds set for early spring — that it sometimes feels you can guess the quality of a film by its release date. So far, 2013 has had a few exceptions: Mama was more thought-provoking than nightmare-inducing horror, and Side Effects, while not a hit, was smarter and livelier than director Steven Soderbergh’s 2012 winter release, Haywire. Add to that list Jack the Giant Slayer.
Studios have overwhelmed audiences in recent years with a new subgenre: The revisionist fair tale. From Red Riding Hood to Snow White and the Huntman (and its lesser sister, Mirror, Mirror) to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, reimagined myths have begun to wear out their welcome. (Execs smartly cast name-brand actors, like Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron, to give them the gloss of respectability if not artistic cred.) That makes the one-two punch of Jack and next week’s Oz, The Great and Powerful seem likes rushes to the middle, clearing the cupboards until the “real” hits role out in May.
Not so, however, with Jack the Giant Slayer.