More Thoughts About Jack the Giant Slayer: by Evan Kline

Posted: March 19, 2013 by Josh Kwasny in Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Guest Post
Tags: , , , ,

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I wrote briefly on the recently released movie “Jack the Giant Slayer,” before it was released, giving my initial thoughts on the blurbs and trailers. I did end up seeing it opening day and have a few thoughts to add and elaborate on. Warning: there will be heavy spoilers, but like I said in the previous article the title of the movie spoils the ending anyway so take it as you may.

In my previous post –and by sheer prescience (ha)– I predicted that Jack would slay his giant in the end and win the day. Sure enough that’s what happened. On this rare occasion I actually hoped that Hollywood would deviate from the fairytale story(ies) and spice things up a bit. The story ultimately stayed pretty straight forward and predictable. It certainly wasn’t a failed movie, but it wasn’t excellent either; just a normal slice of theatrical pie you’ll forget about a few days later after it’s passed through the system. On the movies way through my system there were a few things that stuck out.

The first two things were the movie’s presented roles of its young man and young woman. The movie’s central character is Jack, played by the up-and-coming Nicholas Hoult. He’s a country farmhand who lives with his begrudging uncle. The boy lives in fairytales and jumps from one haphazard victory to another. He is awarded the title and badge of “Guardian” by one of the Kings elite bodyguards (played by Ewan McGregor; one of the movies redeeming qualities). The bequeathing of this great honor seems superficial however, since Jack’s heroic acts are a jumbled pile of dumb luck with a dash of courage. He’s unskilled and not especially bright; he’s just a warm body (haha…) that kind of likes a girl and throws himself into danger.

If you read my first post I encouraged us to be watching this movie to see where Jack gets his ‘power’ from: his ability to kill the giant. Biblically, in stories like David and Goliath, we see that giant-killing power comes from God himself and is attributed as such. In this movie, there was no real power anywhere, just happenstance, circumstance, and luck. Jack only beat the giant because he coincidentally, and with no clear purpose, saved one of the magic beans at the beginning. This just seems to me like a slightly better deus ex machina. There was actually a somewhat positive (albeit non-specific) mention of God in the movie, but in no way was He attributed with the events of the story or called upon for help or salvation. So what was Jack’s source of giant slaying power? How did he do it? With a little bit o’ bloomin’ luck. I suppose, in the end, I prefer that over the typical ‘you-just-need-to-look-within-yourself’ narrative.

Isabelle –the princess– is your typical young female royalty. Her hand has been given away in marriage; she wants to find love and commitment “In my own time;” and goes off on a free-spirited quest for adventure, bucking authority, which gets her into trouble, but works out in the end. Keep beating that drum Hollywood. Why fix what ain’t broke? *cough*

Upon reflection after the movie there were two other themes that stuck out. To preface, any story is good insofar as it resonates with the True Story: the Bible. I mentioned in my preliminarily post on Jack the Giant Slayer that the title of the movie gives away the ending. The movie is about how to get there. We aren’t wringing our hands thinking “How is this going to resolve itself?” We actually are given the answer even before watching: Jack’s gonna kill the giant. The tension is the in-between, not the resolution.  There’s a theological phrase called the ‘Now but not yet.” What it’s referring to is Jesus’ work on the cross. He dealt the final blow to Satan, sin, and death, and we’ve been given the ending to the story in Revelation: He’s going to come back, kick some butt, and take us to be with Him for eternity. So in a sense, victory is now because of the assurance we have through faith in Christ. But, we still struggle with temptation, Satan is still the prince of this world, and we still pray “Lord, tarry not.” So the present reality for us is, “Not yet.” It’s a tension we live in: we have assurance of victory but live before its finality, before Jesus returns. The movie overtly plays off this same tension which fascinates me.

The second thing that struck me was the seed. This was actually a very Biblical plot piece. A group of monks made these special seeds to grow into the heavens so they could climb up to where God lived. The plan backfired and they ended up releasing evil upon the land in the form of giants. This is the central plot of Scripture: man desires to be like God but the attempt results in evil. This was the temptation of the fruit in the garden of Eden. This was the temptation of the tower of Babel. In Jack the Giant Slayer, the problem –the seed– also turned out to be the solution: Jack used the seed to slay the giant king and win the crown. This is also the great twist of Scripture. The problem, our problem, is sin and death. We all sin and are deserving of death. Jesus came and became sin, then died. The solution to death was death. Then Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death and become our King so that we might participate in His new life. In the movie Jack came forward amidst the wreckage of the kingdom as the new king to send the giants back to never return. He defeated the evil threat and forged a new kingdom for everyone to live in. (“But Evan, what about the ending scene?” You say. Yes I know, but the movie wasn’t good enough to merit a sequel so the giants won’t come back).

In the end, I didn’t think the movie was the best. Is it worth seeing in theaters? I can give a resounding “Maybe!”  If you’re looking for somewhere to spend your money it may be worth waiting for a DVD rental. However there were some good themes that pleasantly surprised me. It is certainly is a mixed pot, but a much more tasteful one that most of the movies out there lately.

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