Couple that with man-eating giants, and the question seems obvious: Who exactly is this movie for?
It’s certainly made well enough. The digitally animated giants, whose kidnapping of Isabelle leads to a rescue mission by Jack, the dashing palace guard Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and Isabelle’s betrothed (Stanley Tucci), are actually kind of cool, albeit in a cartoonish way. Inexplicably, one of them (voiced by Bill Nighy) has a second head sprouting from the side of his neck, like a Gollum-shaped goiter. Voiced by John Kassir, the appendage doesn’t talk so much as roll its eyes, grunt and mug for the camera, in an annoyingly intrusive form of comic relief.
Oddly, the movie isn’t quite scary enough — for anyone older than, say, 10 — to really need it.
In the title role, Hoult comes across as a somewhat zombie-ish leading man, a result of either his limited acting ability or his recent starring turn as an undead teen in “Warm Bodies.” Tomlinson, for her part, is suitably feisty, although in a generic, Disney-princess sort of way. Tucci hams it up nicely as Isabelle’s duplicitous fiance, Roderick, a megalomaniac in tights with a medieval Jheri curl who wants to rule over the giants.
This leaves McGregor as the film’s only actual grown-up hero. Unfortunately, the part that’s written for him (by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney) doesn’t live up to the actor’s considerable talent, charm and screen presence. I would much rather have seen “Elmont the Giant Slayer.” But then again, unlike Jack — who looks like a digitally aged version of the baby-faced kid Hoult played in “About a Boy” — I’m old enough to shave.
There are a couple of nifty, if less than jaw-dropping, special effects. But the whole thing never feels entirely — I don’t know — real. Why, for example, are all the giants dudes? Where are all the lady giants, or the giant babies?
It may seem crazy to apply logic to a fairy tale. But isn’t that why kids love them in the first place, because they could be, just possibly, true?
PG-13. At area theaters. Contains bloodless but intense fantasy violence and brief crude language. 117 minutes.