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Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (Widescreen)

Matthew Modine , Vanessa Redgrave , Brian Henson    Unrated   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 112.61
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This ambitious miniseries begins with Jack's descendant (Matthew Modine) and works its way backward to the story of the original young man and the beanstalk. Because the first Jack used that towering vine to steal a giant's magic goose and harp, an entire world was reduced to poverty and a bloodline was cursed--all Robinson men die in their 40s, and the modern-day Jack is around that age. Fortunately, Ondine (Mia Sara), a visitor from the giant's alternative reality, has a plan. If she and Jack can recover the stolen items in time, they may be able to solve both problems. The made-for-TV movie boasts top stars (including Vanessa Redgrave and Jon Voight) and Jim Henson's Creature Shop's nifty special effects. Although children younger than 10 may find the complex narrative confusing and the implied violence scary, Jack and the Beanstalk is an inventive retelling that adds new life to an old story. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment -- What a waste! April 20 2004
"Jack and the Beanstalk" was my favorite fairy tale when I was a child; and I had great hopes when I heard about this television adaptation that Hollywood would finally do it justice. They did not. The Abbott & Costello take on the story (released in 1952) at least gives you a few good laughs. Why on earth has NO ONE tapped into the incredible cinematic potential which the earliest version of this story has??? I was fortunate enough, when young, to be exposed to retellings based on the earliest surviving text of this folk tale, which was published in 1807. For those who are interested in reading the original, it may be found in The Classic Fairy Tales, a scholarly work by Iona and Peter Opie (published by Oxford University Press). The vocabulary used in this earliest version is well above that of younger children, and it reads more like a novella, with its long flashback section. In it, Jack does not find himself in some fanciful cloud-kingdom in the sky when he reaches the top of the beanstalk; he finds himself in an arrid wasteland (presumably at the top of a cliff up which the beanstalk grew). He does not steal the treasures from the Giant for the fun of it (which would, of course, make him amoral); a fairy in the disguise of a beggar woman tells him that the cannibalistic ogre had gained the confidence of Jack's father, who was as rich as a prince, stabbed him to death, and then stolen all his treasures. His duty is to punish the Giant and avenge his father's death. When Jack reaches the Giant's castle, he is admitted by a normal-sized woman who leads him past a dungeon, where the groans of future victims for the Giant's table are heard. The Giant does not come stomping in reciting a silly rhyme: "Fee Fi Fo Fum, etc. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Henson Magic at it's Best Oct. 27 2003
What a wonderful way to take a fairy tale that we all grew up with, turn it around and give it a whole new slant..while keeping the core story the same. Brian Henson, Son of Jim has brought the Magic of Henson to the TV screen in a "Giant" way :)
The visual effects are outstanding..some of the best I have seen ... and incredible for a shoot that was only 11 1/2 weeks long (source: special features-behind the scenes- on DVD) .
The actors did an outstanding job, with John Voigt pulling in a comedic performance that is a total surprise and very refreshing indeed!! Matthew Modine is, as always the best at his craft. He speaks with his eyes and face when he acts.... He is terrific. Darryl Hannah, Richard Attenborough, Mia Sara and Vanessa Redgrave round out the cast with equally well done characters. The role of Thunderdell is completely believeable in "both" roles..You will have to watch that to know what I mean... and is just outstanding.
Buy this movie with confidence!! It is a wonderful rainy night, sit down with a bowl of popcorn and escape movie!! Enjoy!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Parents need to pay more attention.. Oct. 1 2003
This film was rated PG....folks who complain about it not being apropriate for their small children are right. But it is their own fault for not paying attention.
Just because something is made by Hensen, and just becasue it is is based on an old fairy tale doesn't mean it is automatically for children.
Parents stop blaming the film makers and pay attention to the what the film says on its packaging!
Aside from that this film is wonderful, not at all boring as some think, but and interesting intelectual twist on a fairy tale. It was a delight to see this well acted, well filmed TV movie that truly had some heart and good storytelling to boot!
Mia Sara was excellent and the lovely twist at the end was well done and hard to see coming. I'm talking about the "True" story of Jack and his mother, not the actually ending of the film. Which was a little cliched but I belive that cliches, if done well are not always a bad thing. And the cliches in this story have more to do with the parallels to the original fable and so are not a bad thing at all.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Pure unadulterated boredom May 22 2003
By byonder
Format:VHS Tape
I had the displeasure of sitting through this obscenely long (3hr. 4min.) assault on the senses. Fun for the whole family? They'll all be snoring long before this flick is over. I'll admit, during the first thirty minutes I had hopes. After an hour my hopes had pretty much dissipated, and by an hour and a half they were completely crushed. Needless to say, for the remaining hour and half the movie just kicked me in the head while I was down. But let me give some reasons for my adamant dislike for this film.
As I stated before, during the first half hour a seemingly interesting plot was set up. Strange nightmares plagued Jack, his forefathers all died at the age of forty, no one really knew where his wealth came from, and a mysterious person posing as a reporter was following him around. Sounds interesting right? I thought so, but it takes a ridiculously long time for things to progress from this point. The audience will undoubtedly ascertain the answers to all of these "mysteries" long before the movie presents the answers. It makes for tough viewing when the only people who don't know what's going are the characters in the film.
Anyway, back to the plot: The movie essentially tries to throw a new spin on an old fairy tale, which is fine by me. I enjoy retellings, alternative outcomes, and differing perspectives. So they make Jack bad, and the giants good. Not exactly a blockbuster concept, but it could work. That is if the movie could make it half-way believable. But totally absurd plot holes (I think if you were to pull a seven story skeleton out of your backyard and kill two people in the process I think the neighbors might notice) and cheesy special effects (pretty much on par with a power-rangers episode) make this movie not only un-watchable but painful as well.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A not-so-old favorite
I first saw this movie when it was aired on TV, as a two part series. I am, and always have been, a fan of "the other side of the coin" type tales, stories that challenge popular... Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2009 by Jennifer Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie makes sense, but not suitable for kids.
Whether you prefer the classic or this new version, it doesn't make any difference. The classic Jack and the magic Beanstalk is not suitable for kids anyway,Why? Read more
Published on June 3 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A return to great storytelling
I've shown this movie for three years now in a creative writing class for kids. I continue to be amazed at how intricately it weaves its story -- I discover something new on each... Read more
Published on March 20 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good movie.
Nice Story, good actors and the butler is perfect!
So I think this movie is very good, and nice to see it.
Greez Lex Moneyshot
Published on Oct. 18 2003 by Lex Moneyshot
5.0 out of 5 stars Ok for adults and GREAT for kids
I highly recommend this movie...especially for children.
We watched this movie as a family movie and my children, ages 4 - 11 loved it from beginning to end. Read more
Published on June 30 2003 by TYoung
2.0 out of 5 stars Making Belief Impossible - Extravegant Drivel!
Lavish visuals and star power cannot rescue this piece of extravegant drivel!
My annoyance with Jack was largely because of the potential, talent and money it squanders. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 2002 by Nik Jonge
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Family Movie Promoting High Moral Values
This is one of the best family DVD's I have ever seen. Not only is the story great for kids (but appropriately rated at PG because of a few scary scenes) , it is really wonderful... Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2002 by Imperial Topaz
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing - fine cast could not rescue this one
Since I love fairy tales, and have a weakness for "retellings," the beginning of this film, with its promise of providing the rest of the story, indeed captured my... Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2002 by Elizabeth G. Melillo
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Just for Kids
I thought it would be a good tape for the kids but I was surprised. It was interesting and captivating. However, I did not see how long the movie was before I bought it. Read more
Published on May 3 2002
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