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4.4 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 February 2011
It's the fairy tale land of Cornwall, England, and the Black Prince Pendragon (Torin Thatcher) plans to abduct Princess Elaine (Judith Meredith) so as to gain control of the land. However, his plans are at first thwarted when farmers boy Jack (Kerwin Matthews) slays the giant sent by Pendragon to claim the Princess. But Pendragon is not to be denied and a battle between good and evil commences.

There's quite a back story to this United Artists feature film. It's loosely based on the traditional tale "Jack the Giant Killer" and features the use of stop motion animation. The mere mention of stop motion automatically brings to mind the great name of Ray Harryhausen. In 1958 director Nathan Juran had helmed The 7th Voyage of Sinbad with both Matthews and Thatcher starring as the good and evil characters respectively. A big success for Columbia, Harryhausen had offered it to UA producer Edward Small who turned it down, much to his regret. So here, four years later, he gathered the same crew for what essentially is a retread of the plot of Sinbad's seventh in the hope of replicating said success. Harryhausen, however, said no, perhaps understandably, so his creatures were created for "Jack" by Project Unlimited under the watchful eye of one time Harryhausen understudy Jim Danforth. While the other effects, filmed in "Fantascope" come courtesy of Howard A. Anderson and Augie Lohman.

Columbia sued Small on the grounds of plot similarity, thus holding up the release of the film in the UK for several years (it wasn't banned as some people seem to think). Once released the film was panned by the critics and many parents were outraged that the film was too violent and scary for youngsters. Small would take this personally and intending to make something of the movie, had it re-dubbed and made into a musical. The result of which is just garbage. Thankfully the film was finally restored to its original glory on DVD and found a whole new generation of fantasy adventure fans with a bent for the lost art of stop motion animation. Kerwin Matthews passed away in 2007, a handsome swashbuckling actor, Jack The Giant Killer was his last foray into the fantasy adventure realm. It's at least comforting to know that he got to see this little treasure of a film finally get accepted by an audience.

The film itself delivers everything one expects of the genre. The creatures are effective, even if the jerkiness shows that it's not Harryhausen at the helm; tho this is off set by a wonderful sequence as electricity cloaked witch demons attack Jack's ship. There's a dashing hero, a pretty princess, a vile and chilling evil doer, hell there's even the little imp of the lamp (Don Beddoe) for some limerick shenanigans. The production design is quality, where the set decoration of the Pendragon Castle and the costuming for some of the grotesque characters who dwell within, is period and genre strong. From its delightful story book opening to its final battle between hero and villain, Jack The Giant Killer is a rich and playful fantasy. 7/10
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on 13 February 2007
After seeing this movie recently, it has gone on to be one of my favourite films. it has everything, charm, romance, vikings, leprechauns, an evil sorcerer and plenty of giants. a traditional fairytale with some "interesting" monsters, you can tell the designers really went to town to create unique and chilling creatures, my favourite being a shapely witch with a head like an open maw, which can emit hurricane force gales. Its all a bit of fun, with a rhyming leprechaun in a bottle who aids jack and a steriotypical viking who singlehandedly mans a warship. if you want a fantasy film whic sticks to the tried and tested formula, then this is a perfect film for you. it has the beautiful princess coming of age, getting kidnapped, getting rescued by a (very) handsome farm boy who is then knighted and charged with the safety of the princess who again gets kidnapped... la la la, etc, etc, etc. its all predictable stuff and leaves you with a warmth inside and a smile on your face.

i cant think of a bad thing to say about it, apart from the crude animation, but even that has its charm, and the cornyness of the whole thing but it is a great film and especially one for a rainy sunday in.
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on 2 July 2012
The evil sorcerer Pendragon wants to rule the Kingdom of Cornwall, to achieve this he needs to kidnap the King's daughter Elaine. With his trusty servant Garna controlling a rather bad tempered giant, his plan doesn't quite succeed thanks to local farm boy Jack. The King decides to send Elaine to safety and entrusts Jack to protect her. Unfortunately Pendragon's witches abduct Elaine so Jack has to save the day with the help of an Irish Imp (complete with comedy accent) in a bottle and a Viking who happens to rescue Jack from the sea.

The film is packed with plenty of action sequences with some charming stop (clay) motion creatures. The giant is great and I loved the witches with their camp make up and their cheap halloween style costumes. The film has some great sets and all the Kingdom of Cornwall's clothes and barnets seem to have been borrowed from old Robin Hood films complete with their tights. Also, I really enjoyed the clever use of basic animation and colour filtering to compliment the SFX sequences, sure it looks dated but who cares when you are having such a great time.

With two of the stars (Kerwin Mathews and Torin Thatcher - who is completely magnificent as Pendragon especially when wearing his cape) and director (Nathan Juran) from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jack the Giant Killer is an entertaining romp and suitable for kids of all ages (adults especially). It's not as good as the Harryhausen films, but it is one of those films all scholars of fantasy films should have in their collection.

Years later, some 'genius' tried to turn the film into a musical and it was re edited and released. Obviously it was a disaster and the film 101 Films have blessed us with is the theatrical version. The musical version hasn't been released thankfully. For this review I did find a snippet of it on YouTube and if it's real, it is very bad and not in a good way.

I'll tell you what, Bryan Singer has got one hell of a pair of boots to fill next year with his remake.
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on 5 July 2012
This looks like a PAL conversion of the USA release from the DVD release several years ago. It is Letterboxed 4x3 aspect ratio.A 16x9 version, with a hint of restoration would have been much, much better.101 films should have put a lot more effort into the technical standard in this release.
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on 27 October 2015
It was on one weekend morning, and quite certain it was on a Saturday when I watched this amazing magical fantasy film on television.
I saw it on BBC 2 and I will never forget watching this for the first time as a little lad. Most memorable for me because of the amazing special effects and stop motion monsters. Many would say that the movie was a Ray Harryhausen film, but in truth, it was not. The special effects were handled by, among others, animators Wah Chang, Gene Warren and Jim Danforth. In their defence, they didn't build the models themselves and, therefore, they were not as mobile as they would have liked, limiting the model's movements somewhat and reducing the smoothness of the animation.
The main plot of the film is about a young man, Jack played by Kerwin Matthews who defends a princess against a sorcerer's giants and demons. Torin Thatcher stars as the sorcerer Pendragon who attempts to capture the princess and have him as his evil witch, and also plots revenge against the King of Cornwall. There are a number of monsters in this classic film, from a one eyed giant called Cormoran, a two-headed giant called Galligantua, a tentacled sea monster, ghosts, armoured knights, and of course a dragon.
I have recently acquired the DVD of this film and for all you fantasy fans, this movie will entrance you from start to finish when I first watched it as a young boy. Since then, I have seen it at least 4 or 5 times now, and I will never tire of watching it.
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on 17 April 2013
I'm a huge fan of Harrthausen, specifically Jason and the Argonauts and of course 7th voyage of Sinbad. Jack the giant killer has the same director as 7th voyage, I guess it was made in response to the popularity of it. However, this isn't a work of Harryhausens' and although the stop motion has a certain charm it in no way can compete with the technical brilliance Harryhausen brings to the table. The film does have a magical charm about it but falls short on many levels. It is enjoyable nonetheless.
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on 24 May 2014
The original 1962 veresion, not the recent story so buyer beware as I was caught totally offguard by this. The film quality is awful and I can't see any children enjoying the film, I turned it off after 15 minutes and that was 15 minutes too long!
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on 10 July 2012
This is a film I really like so am a bit biased in this review. The new release by 101 films is to be welcomed, after all for it to be released is obviously better than chasing down import versions. The new release is a bit barebones, its the film in 4:3 ratio and nothing else. Nothing but the film itself is on this disc. The copy in my opinion having just finished watching it is very acceptable, clean print, nice bright colours and only one scene that has a "jump" in it. All round very good and most watch-able indeed. Yes its a shame it is not restored but better to have than not I think and it is (to labour the point) a really good, watchable print 8/10 in my opinion.

The film is brilliant, completely mad in its mix of mild horror, fairy tale, stop frame and traditional animation, colour filters, and crazy crazy costumes.........a great tale better for old kids than young ones I'd say given today's sensibilities.......

The dvd also contains a small print of the cover art.......

Well worth buying......
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on 12 January 2017
This film has the same director and stars playing similar hero and villain as the earlier 7th Voyage of Sinbad. On original release it got into legal trouble due to perceived similarities between the stop motion animated monsters and those by Ray Harryhausen in the Sinbad movie, and the makers eventually had to make changes that turned it into a musical romp!
Thankfully this is the original version and if you have a taste for these fantasy movies you won't be disappointed. Modern kids reared on CGI may be bored, but 64 year old children like me may still love its cavalcade of psychedelic witches in lurid eye makeup and the outrageously camp Torin Thatcher as a malevolent black magician.
Note: the cover says this is unfortunately 4:3 ratio and at least one review here accepts this, but I just watched it and it's actually a lovely wide screen print that fits modern 16:9 tvs. Comes with a nice repro of the original poster too.
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on 30 December 2007
I got this for Christmas and I have to say I was very sceptical, I didn't think I'd enjoy it. But after one viewing I thought it was wonderful! The tale of Jack and his battle against the Sorcerer Pendragon and the giants has many similarities to The first Sinbad film, for instance the first giant is almost exactly the same as Harryhausen's cyclops, but it has a different look and style. This is great family viewing.
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