The classic tale of a poor boy that traded his cow for a handful of magic beans comes to life this Sunday at 9 p.m. The real story of “Jack and the Beanstalk” is told as never before. This innovative tale of Jack, expands and transforms the fairy tale so much that no one will be able to read the story the same way again.
Jack Robinson (Matthew Modine, “Full Metal Jacket”) is a present day CEO of an enormous conglomerate that has grown through 10 generations in his family. The only catch to their infinite success is that Robinson men only live until their 40th birthday.
One day Jack meets a mysterious young woman from the giant”s world named Ondine (Mia Sara, “Ferris Bueller”s Day Off”), who places questions in his mind about the origins of his family”s wealth.
He goes home to his family”s castle and discovers builders have dug up the bones of a giant from the estate”s yard. His aunt, the Countess Wilamena (Vanessa Redgrave, “Julia”), tells Jack the original fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk to convince him that he is the direct descendent of the original Jack.
The first Jack climbed the beanstalk and rescued the goose and harp from the giant named Thunderdell (Bill Baretta). Present day Jack realizes his wealth stemmed from the goose that lays golden eggs named Gallaga, and the magic harp the first Jack took from Thunderdell almost 400-years-ago.
Jack then decides to break the curse set on the males of his family, and travels to the giant”s world above by way of another beanstalk. There he encounters Ondine again and is taken to a court.
Ondine describes the differences in their worlds, most importantly that time in the giant world works differently. One day on their world is one year on Earth. Since the goose and harp left, the giants” world was reduced to destitute conditions.
With the giants, Jack learns the true events that lead to his ancestor gaining possession of Gallaga and the harp. To break the curse he must return the goose and harp to the giants so that their world can live once more.
“Jack and The Beanstalk” provides a totally innovative twist on a timeless story. This original re-telling of the fairy tale shows the evolution of time and demonstrates how myths and legends become distorted through the ages. The twists of the plot keep the story interesting and fresh. The beginning is abrupt, and in the first half hour there is no mention of the fairy tale at all, making this part a little tedious. All the information is relevant to the story however, revealing its importance later in the movie.
The creatures, created by Jim Henson”s Creature Shop, are outstanding. The puppets become more life-like in every scene. The scenes with the immense giants interacting with regular size humans appear to be real and not just special effects added on later. The other visual effects are incredible as well. The colossal beanstalk looks just authentic enough to believe in the impossible.
Vanessa Redgrave gives an impressive performance as Countess Wilamena. She includes characteristics of both the typical evil stepmother and fairy godmother in her performance. This dichotomy gives a new depth to the refreshed narrative and the mini-series as a whole.