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‘Jack the Giant Slayer’

by Kaori Shoji

A fantastical (and technically stunning) spin on a classic bedtime story, “Jack the Giant Slayer” doesn’t tell us anything new, but some moments may give nightmares to the under-12s. The fee-fi-fo-fum ambience is there, but director Bryan Singer (of “X-Men” franchise fame) instead mostly turns the dials on terrifying sight gags (like very pointy blades aimed at vulnerable body parts) and terrifying giants that travel in packs and guzzle their favorite food, which is pigs in a blanket — literally.

Jack (played by the very amiable Nicholas Hoult) must contend with a horde of very large ogres with obvious hygiene problems (instead of just one, like in the original version) and before Singer stages a predictable and pumped-up war between humans and giants, the movie has ample stores of dark, funny wit to fuel the ride.

The winning cast includes Stanley Tucci as the evil Roderick, who schemes to wed Jack’s beloved princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) and take over her kingdom; and Ewan McGregor, who plays Jack’s comrade in arms Elmont with vivid “Star Wars” flair. Too bad the story loses momentum when the big fight scenes begin. My personal theory: Everyone winds up in New Zealand, as the movie turns into “The Lord of the Rings.”