The casting is a bit of a conundrum, going for relative newcomers in the leads and unexpected, acclaimed European character actors in the supporting positions. Ewan McGregor, Eddie Marsan, Ewen Bremner, and the very recognizable voice of Bill Nighy (sounding entirely too much like the tentacle-faced Davy Jones of Pirates of the Caribbean) are amongst them, while the facially flamboyant Stanley Tucci plays the chief human villain. It’s purposeful to use an actor that is difficult to take seriously as a merciless murderer, but also rather contrary when so many other elements of the film are approached with such sprightly absurdity. There’s a clear preoccupancy with bodily boorishness as well, not only with repulsive, lumpy, mutated colossus designs, but also with facial mucus, gastrocolic discharges, and habitual aberration (of the PG-13 variety).
The clash of sensibility propagates to character development and inconsistencies in size and strength. The princess is anxious to demand that her father give her independence; the scene just before demonstrates her complete inability to defend herself, as a gang of drunks accosts her in the marketplace. And, as is common in films involving antiquated royalty, nobility forbids a commoner from marrying queenship – but it says nothing of common decency, which eludes the princess as she fails to ask Jack to accompany her back to the castle. She’s then surprisingly overjoyed when he reenters her life once again to warn her of yet another attempt on her life. As for visual consistency, the mountainous brobdingnagians that descend upon the city are, when convenient to stretch out anticipation, overpowered by tiny humans (in a particularly embarrassing tug-o-war), outrun by horses, unable to pass an innocuous moat of flaming oil, and cannot simply jump over the undersized walls of the castle. This is all despite their towering massiveness, which morphs from time to time to either aid or impede their destructive capabilities.
- Mike Massie