Story

Jack the Giant Slayer opens with young farm boy Jack being read a bedtime story about King Erik. Erik was a legendary king who defeated the giants of Gantua, a land between earth and heaven. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that a race of fierce giants from the land of Gantua reached the lands below by climbing down magic beanstalks. They pillaged villages and feasted upon humans for many years. The giants were only stopped when King Erik created a magical crown that gave him supreme control over the giants. King Erik banished the giants to their own realm in the sky and chopped down the beanstalks. The magical crown and beans were buried with King Erik when he died.

As a young man of 18, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) heads off to market to sell his uncle’s horse and cart. While at the market, Jack rescues Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson) from men who are assaulting her. She likes adventure and is dressed as a commoner. Later, a monk persuades Jack to sell him his horse in exchange for a few beans – the magic beans of the legend. The monk has just stolen the beans from the king’s councillor Roderick (Stanley Tucci), who had the beans for his own evil purposes.

Later that night Princess Isabelle is out on one of her adventures. She takes refuge in Jack’s house when the weather turns bad. Disaster strikes when one of the magic beans accidentally gets wet, sprouts into a giant beanstalk and shoots skyward, taking Jack’s house and the princess with it.

The next day King Bramwell (Ian McShane) orders Isabelle’s guardian, Elmont (Ewan McGregor), Jack, the treacherous Roderick and several guards to climb the beanstalk and bring back the princess. When Jack and Elmont reach the top of the beanstalk, they discover Gantua and an army of giants. Rescuing Isabelle is now very dangerous, and the entire kingdom is placed in danger when the leader of the giants, General Fallon (Bill Nighy), declares war on the kingdom below and comes down with his army.

Themes

Fairytales and the supernatural; revenge; treachery

Violence

This movie has intense fantasy violence, action violence, murder, battle violence and danger throughout. It also shows several gruesome deaths. For example:
  • In a flashback scene, animated images of giants carrying medieval weapons storm down a giant beanstalk, terrorising villagers and burning down houses. A voiceover says that giants pillaged villages and killed and ate humans for hundreds of years. There is an image of a giant about to put a human in his mouth.
  • In a battle between giants and soldiers, giants pick up soldiers and eat them. A giant bites the head off one soldier and tosses his body away. Giants throw burning trees over a castle wall, hitting soldiers and spreading fire over the ground. Soldiers shoot several giants in the face and head with large arrows. The scene doesn’t show a lot of blood and gore.
  • Three men stop Princess Isabelle. One man grabs her wrist and won’t let her go. When Jack intervenes, the man lets go of the princess’s wrist and punches Jack in the face, knocking him to the ground.
  • A monk is tied to a chair, slumped over and groaning in pain. After questioning the monk, Roderick draws out a long dagger to stab the monk in the chest and kill him.
  • Roderick murders a man by pushing him off a cliff. The man screams as he falls.
  • A giant pins Princess Isabelle down and holds a knife above her as if he’s about to cut off her head. Before the giant can kill the princess, Jack jumps on to the giant’s back and stabs him with a huge knife. The giant staggers around trying to reach for the knife and then falls backwards into a wall. This pushes the knife deeper into his back, and the giant falls down dead. The dead giant’s face looks scary and disturbing – his eyes are open and they look cloudy.
  • Jack lifts the helmet off a sleeping giant and puts a beehive into the giant’s mouth. The giant wakes up, slapping his head. He pulls off his helmet and then overbalances, falling off the top of a cliff. The giant falls through the air and lands hard on the ground. His dead body lies on the ground, his eyes open and tongue hanging out.
  • General Fallon is shot in the face with arrows at close range. He falls into a river covered with burning oil and struggles in the flames. He disappears beneath the burning oil, pulling the arrows from his face. He survives and is seen later with a burned and blackened face.
  • Jack throws a magic bean down the General Fallon’s mouth, causing a giant beanstalk to erupt out of the giant’s body. The giant’s eye pops out and rolls along the ground as his body explodes. A severed arm lies on the ground.
  • Elmont and Roderick attack each other with swords, rolling around on the ground and holding each other down. One man holds the other’s head under water. One man slices the other across the face with a dagger. There is a cut and minimal blood. One man is stabbed through the hand and then in the stomach, crawling away and dying with his eyes open.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Monks carry a giant’s still beating, blackish heart and aorta.
  • A giant beanstalk erupts from under a farm house, breaking through the floor of the house and lifting the house up into the sky. Jack and Princess Isabelle are inside the house. The princess screams as Jack is hurled out through the roof. He uses a hatchet to cling onto the beanstalk. Eventually Jack is thrown from the beanstalk, landing unconscious on the ground.
  • At the top of a beanstalk, there are gigantic stone statues of the heads of giants. The heads have gaping mouths full of teeth, tongues hanging out and water pouring from the mouths.
  • The giants are gruesome creatures with dirty hair and gnarled skin. Some have crooked and broken teeth, and others have sharp pointy teeth. Some wear human skeleton parts and animal bones as necklaces. They carry medieval weapons including maces, swords, spears, slingshots and clubs.
  • In scenes designed to be comical, the giants burp and produce loud flatulent sounds. We see one giant picking large strings of mucus from his nose, which he then eats.
  • The leader of the giants General Fallon is a two-headed giant. One head is fierce, and the other head is smaller and grunts and roars to communicate. 

From 5-8

Children in this age group are also very likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Sexual references

This movie has some sexual references, including discussion of Princess Isabelle’s arranged marriage. The princess doesn’t want an arranged marriage and believes she should marry for love. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie shows a couple of brief kisses on the mouth between Isabelle and Jack. 

Product placement

None of concern 

Coarse language

This movie has infrequent low-level coarse language and name-calling.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Jack the Giant Slayer is an adaptation of the classic Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale. It is a fantasy adventure targeting a teenage audience, particularly boys.

The movie has a lot of violence, with gruesome deaths and scary visual images that might disturb younger viewers. For example, horrible-looking giants rip the heads off men and eat them. The giants themselves also meet gruesome deaths.

The movie is therefore not recommended for children under 13 years, who might be attracted to it because of their familiarity with the original fairytale. We also strongly recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years. The movie is unlikely to entertain adults because it lacks character development and the plot is predictable.

The main message from this movie is that power is dangerous when put in the hands of people who are corrupt. People who wield power should use it to make the world a better place and put the needs of others above their own.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include bravery, courage and selflessness, as shown by Jack, Elmont, King Bramwell and Isabelle.