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Jim Henson's Jack and The Beanstock: The Real Story

Artisan // Unrated // February 5, 2002
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Earl Cressey | posted February 21, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Review:
Jim Henson's Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story

Movie:
Jim Henson's Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story originally premiered as a two-part miniseries on CBS in December 2001. Directed by Brian Henson, the series stars: Matthew Modine (Jack), Vanessa Redgrave (Countess Wilhelmina/Narrator), Mia Sara (Ondine), Daryl Hannah, Jon Voight (Siggy), and Richard Attenborough.

Thirty-seven year old Jack Robinson is the CEO of Robinson International, one of the richest businesses in the world. However, trouble has recently befallen the excavation site of his new casino, as the team has discovered the bones of a murdered giant. His aunt, the Countess Wilhelmina, shares with him the familiar fairytale of Jack and the Beanstalk and drops a few bombshells on him – it is true, Jack was his ancestor, and all his wealth stems from those stolen treasures. When the bones were disturbed, Ondine, from the Giant World, was free to enter ours, with the mission of capturing Jack and bringing him to trial for his ancestor's crime. Now, with time running out for him and Giant World, Jack must discover the location of the stolen treasures and find the truth of what really happened four hundred years ago.

Jim Henson's Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story aptly retells the original fairytale and then expands and twists it into a fascinating drama set in today's time. Though the film runs a tad over three hours in length, it was always entertaining, due in large part to the imagination of director Henson. Modine shines as the innocent and unknowing Jack, who suddenly has his whole world turned upside down when he learns his family's secret. The only real drawback is Voight's overacting, who plays Jack's father figure.

Picture:
Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, though the case says 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer is exceptional throughout, with little in the way of print defects. Colors throughout are lush and well saturated with natural flesh tones. Blacks are rich with excellent detail.

Sound:
Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround in English. The 5.1 track sounds much richer than the 2.0 track, as the score is spread to the rear speakers. Surrounds are fairly active, given it was originally a TV mini-series, though are mainly confined to the front speakers. Dialogue is crisp and clean throughout, with no distortion that I detected. There are no optional subtitles.

Extras:
Included are: an eight and a half minute Look Behind the Scenes, in which several of the principals discuss the storyline; the seven minute Jim Henson's Creature Shop Special, in which the film's special effects are discussed, and thirty-two pages of informative production notes.

Summary:
Jim Henson's Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story makes an excellent family movie and remains one of the best things I've seen on TV in quite some time. The low MSRP of $19.98 makes this one easy to recommend for fans of the mini-series or imaginative newcomers. Highly Recommended!

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Highly Recommended

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