“Jack and the Beanstalk” is the latest fairy tale to get the inevitable big-screen treatment in director Bryan Singer’s rollicking and easy-breezy Jack the Giant Slayer.

Nicholas Hoult, most recently seen in last month’s Warm Bodies, plays the titular hero, a farmboy who is as good-hearted as he is noble. Raised by a father who told him bedtime stories of kings and giants, he longs for a life of adventure. He soon gets it after developing a crush on the kingdom’s resident princess Isabelle (a lovely Eleanor Tomlinson) and accidentally ends up with those magical beans during a botched heist at the King’s castle. Advised not to get them wet (here’s where I choke down a Gremlins joke), Jack stores them in a pouch unaware of a runaway bean that has made its way under the floorboards of his little shack of a house. Cue the princess, an adventure-seeker herself, who shows up at his doorstep during a rainstorm — just in time to be whisked away, along with the house, by a monstrous beanstalk that shoots up into the sky.

From there, the movie is what you’d expect from a rousing period actioner loaded with British accents, CGI wizardry, and dashing heroes.

The script, written by Christopher McQuarrie (Jack Reacher), Darren Lemke, and Dan Studney, does an adequate job expanding the mythology of this well-known classic even if it does come off as a Lord of the Rings spin-off featuring more two-dimensional characters. As for the action, most of it is breathlessly staged, especially during the pivotal beanstalk explosion, a humorous set piece in which one of our heroes gets prepped and ready — rolled up like a pastry puff — for a giant’s snack, and during a thrilling third-act showdown between the humans and the giants. Singer is no stranger to elaborate stunts and out-of-this-world shenanigans. However, one has to wonder if he’s continuing to slip away from the promise he showed in X2: X-Men United (gulp) 10 years ago. Granted, this is literally the stuff of fairy tales here. There’s only so much he can do with characters that don’t flash adamantium claws and turn water into ice. That said, perhaps he should focus his attention on smaller-scaled films and revisit his storytelling roots. Just a suggestion.

As for Jack‘s supporting team, Ewan McGregor is pretty badass as Elmont, the head soldier of the group who’s sent up the beanstalk to rescue Eleanor and bring her back to King Brahmwell (an underused but potent Ian McShane). Stanley Tucci hams it up as Roderick, a suitor of Isabelle’s who has some dastardly plans up his sleeves and sabotages the rescue mission up in the land of giants. And if the voice of the head giant, Fallon, sounds familiar, that’s because it belongs to the great Bill Nighy. He certainly knows his way around a goosebump-inducing “fee fye foe fum.”

The month of March has apparently now become Hollywood’s dumping ground for FX-heavy blockbuster-wannabes (Wrath of the Titans,  Battle: Los Angeles, anyone?), and Jack the Giant Slayer looks poised to join those loud and shiny ranks. And as fun as it is, let’s pray that this film marks the beginning of the end of the fairy-tale craze that’s got a grip on the zeitgeist.

It’s an ending many would be happy to see.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Hiko Mitsuzuka (@TheFirstEcho)