DVD Release Date: June 18, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: March 1, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language)
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Run Time: 115 min.
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor,  Bill Nighy, Eleanor Tomlinson, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner, Ian McShane, Christopher Fairbank, Mingus Johnston

After the worldwide success of Alice in Wonderland kickstarted the whole fairytale fad into gear in 2010, the films that followed have been mostly, well, meh, for lack of a better word.

Sure, Mirror Mirror offered a bit of comic relief and Snow White and the Huntsman was a visual feast and nothing more, but the real low point was January's Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. If anything, the lame attempt to put an R-rated twist on a classic tale only seemed to indicate that big-screen fairy tales were heading in the same direction as the Twilight saga’s sparkly vampires—i.e. yesterday’s news.

That said, it’s not exactly surprising if the average film goer’s expectations are low for Jack the Giant Slayer. For one, the trailer does a pretty lackluster job of selling it, and secondly, the source material has never been a barnburner as far as fairytales go anyway. Lest we forget, it’s magic beans that propel the story into gear.

Despite all Jack the Giant Slayer has working against it perception-wise, imagine my surprise when it actually ends up being a fun couple of hours. Not only does the gorgeous detail in everything from the dreaded giants to the beanstalk itself maximize the 3-D format (a rarity these days), but the old-fashioned storytelling and cleverly staged action sequences can’t help reminding you of old favorites like The Princess Bride and even the Indiana Jones franchise.

Like he did in 2002’s About a Boy and more recently in 2011’s X-Men: First Class and February’s delightful zombie rom-com Warm Bodies, Nicholas Hoult puts his gangly everyman qualities to good use as the titular giant slayer. Staying mostly true to the story’s origins, Jack is still a poor farm boy who hasn’t had the time—or opportunity—for many life adventures. In fact, his uncle needs him to sell the family horse because cash is in particularly short supply. But as you’ve probably already guessed, the transaction doesn’t go as planned, and Jack winds up with beans—magic beans—instead.

But not all of Jack’s time in the kingdom of Cloister was a total bust, mind you. After locking eyes with a beautiful girl named Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson, The Illusionist), Jack later discovers that she’s a princess who also craves adventure. Not happy with her father’s plan for her life, which includes marrying a man she doesn’t love, the narcissistic Roderick (an enjoyably evil Stanley Tucci, The Hunger Games), Isabelle is dead set on seeing what the real world is like and plans to escape her overprotective father to do so. Making sure she stays out of trouble in the meantime is her father’s loyal subject, Elmont (Ewan McGregor, Angels & Demons).