The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro. He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man.
It’s always perplexed me how many good movies have bombed at the box office. Case in point, Bryan Singer’s recent release Jack the Giant Slayer. This hybrid of the fairy tales “Jack the Giant Killer” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” was one of the most entertaining big-budget fantasies to be released within the past few years. In the wake of the success of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, Hollywood has sought out just about any Children’s /Young Adult’s property with elements of fantasy that it can get it’s hands on. Many of them have been bloated with special effects and devoid of anything approaching decent story construction or character development (‘member those?). With some of them, it felt as if I’d had my head inside a video game for 2 hours.
Not so with Jack the Giant Slayer. This was a beautiful and fluid fantasy from one of our most talented filmmakers. Some of the action sequences both rival and surpass those in the recent The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The first full view of the giants, with one of them standing in the background and then rushing up to snatch up one of the characters, is an amazing use of the space afforded by the wide screen (and yes, the use of space is something else that’s in danger of extinction on today’s movie screens—witness all of the recent action thrillers with action sequences that are so crowded, smashed together and over-edited that it’s difficult to see what, if anything, is going on). Amazing too is the actual climb up the beanstalk, a long and tense sequence that calls to mind the illustrations of great storybooks of the past.
The cast was also well-chosen, with Nicholas Hoult doing a solid job as the hero and the ever-busy Stanley Tucci acting out a memorable villain without hamming it up too much.
Why then, did this fail? Are people getting tired of effects-laden fantasies? Or was everyone going to see the heavily hyped and mediocre Oz the Great and Powerful instead?
Unfortunately, gone are the days when most movies were in theatres long enough for word of mouth to build. If a movie doesn’t do blockbuster business it’s first weekend, it’s as dead as someone falling from the top of a giant beanstalk.
Can anyone else think of any neglected movies that they’ve admired over the years?