Australian Council on Children and the Media

Jack the Giant Slayer

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Violence; disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Jack the Giant Slayer
  • a review of Jack the Giant Slayer completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 19 March 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Jack the Giant Slayer
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Fantasy violence
Length 114 minutes minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Jack the Giant Slayer begins with a young farm boy called Jack being read a bedtime story about King Erik, 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 back 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.     

Next seen as a young man of eighteen, Jack (Nicholas Hault) 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 has a liking for adventure and is dressed as a commoner. Later, a monk persuades Jack to sell him his horse in exchange for a few beans - the very magic beans of the legend. The monk had just stolen the magic bean from the king’s councillor Roderick (Stanley Tucci), who had acquired the magic beans for his own evil purposes.

That night Princess Isabelle, who is out on one of her adventures, 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 father 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, but when Jack and Elmont reach the top of the beanstalk they discover Gantua and an army of giants. Not only does rescuing Isabelle become very dangerous, but the entire kingdom is placed in peril when the leader of the giants General Fallon (Bill Nighy) declares war on the kingdom below and descends with his army.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Fairytales and the supernatural; revenge; treachery

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense fantasy violence, action violence, murder, battle violence and peril throughout including the depiction of a number of gruesome deaths. Examples include:

  • In a flashback scene we see animated images of giants carrying a variety of medieval weapons storming down a giant beanstalk, terrorising villagers and burning down houses. A voiceover tells how giants pillaged villages and killed and ate humans for hundreds of years; we see an image of a giant about to put a human in his mouth.
  • In a battle between giants and soldiers, we see soldiers picked up and eaten and one soldier has his head bitten off and his body tossed away. Giants throw burning trees over a castle wall, hitting soldiers and spreading fire over the ground. A number of giants are shot in the face and head with large arrows; minimal blood and gore is depicted. 
  • Three men accost Princess Isabelle, with one man grabbing her wrist and refusing to 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.
  • We see a monk tied to a chair, the monk is slumped over and is groaning in pain. After questioning the mink, 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; we hear the man screaming as he falls.
  • A giant pins Princess Isabelle down and holds a knife above as if about to cut her head off. Before the giant can kill the princess, Jack, wielding a giant knife, jumps on to the giant’s back and stabs him. The giant staggers around trying to reach for the knife and then falls backwards into a wall pushing the knife deeper into his back and falls down dead. The dead giant’s face looks scary and disturbing - his eyes are open and have a cloudy appearance. 
  • Jack lifts the helmet off a sleeping giant and places a beehive into the giant’s mouth. The giant wakes up, slapping his head. He pulls off his helmet off 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 and we see him pulling the arrows from his face. He survives and is seen later with a burnt and blackened and face.   In a later scene, 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, and we see a severed arm lying on the ground.
  • Elmont and Roderick attack each other with swords, rolling around on the ground and holding each other down with one man holding the other man’s head under water. One man slices the other across the face with a dagger; we see 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. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • An image of a giant’s beating  heart and aorta being carried by monks.
  • A giant beanstalk erupts from under Jack's 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 and the princess screams as Jack is hurled out through the roof, using a hatchet to cling onto the beanstalk. Eventually Jack is thrown from the bean stalk, landing unconscious on the ground. 
  • At the top of a bean stalk men encounter a series of gigantic stone statues of the heads of giants with gaping mouth 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 while others have sharp pointy teeth. They carry an assortment of medieval looking weapons including maces, swords, spears, slingshots and clubs and some wear an assortment of human skeleton parts and animal bones as necklaces.
  • Throughout the film, in scenes designed to be comical, the giants produce loud sounds of flatulence and belching. 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 in appearance while the other head is smaller and grunts and roars to communicate.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

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

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

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

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group are may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • discussion related to Princess Isabelle’s arranged marriage, to which the princess objects, believing that she should marry for love.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • There are a couple of brief kisses on the mouth between Isabelle and Jack.

Use of substances

None of concern

Coarse language

The film contains infrequent low-level coarse language and name calling. Examples include:

  • piss off; traitorous bastard; hell of a...; freak; like hell,

In a nutshell

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 film contains a large amount of violence with gruesome deaths and scary visual images that may disturb younger viewers e.g. horrible-looking giants ripping the heads off men and eating them, and the giants themselves also meeting gruesome deaths. It is therefore not recommended for under 13s who may be attracted to it because of familiarity with the original fairytale and parental guidance is strongly recommended for 13-15 year olds. The film is also 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 placed 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 parents may wish to reinforce with their children include bravery, courage and selflessness, as displayed by Jack, Elmont, King Bramwell and Isabelle.

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