Jack The Giant Slayer | 2013
A bit of a change for Bryan Singer with this FX heavy revamp of the Jack and the Beanstalk story, which doesn’t seem to know if it’s aimed at kids or adults. It was made in the UK, and features some great historic locations.
Gone is the traditional cow, as Jack (Nicholas Hoult) takes a horse and cart to sell in the town of ‘Cloister’.
The bustling town square, where Jack gets distracted by Old Hamm (Warwick Davis) and his troupe of actors and defends the honour of Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), is Base Court, the first courtyard of Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey in Surrey.
Hampton Court Palace, on the River Thames southwest of London, was built in 1514 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, but after the Cardinal fell out of favour with King Henry VIII, the king seized the palace for himself – naturally enlarging it. Toward the end of the 17th century, King William III commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to update the Palace in the Baroque style, to rival Versailles. The plans were not fully realised and the palace remains a mixture of Baroque and Tudor.
George II was the last monarch to live here, and the complex is now open to the public.
Its most famous screen ‘appearance’ is often cited as Fred Zinnemann’s 1966 A Man For All Seasons, though the Oscar-winning film used a studio recreation of the palace. Hampton has more recently been featured in Terrence Malick’s The New World, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows and Prof Stephen Hawking biopic, The Theory Of Everything.
The palace corridors, in which the scheming Roderick (Stanley Tucci) and his klutzy servant Wicke (Ewen Bremner) unwittingly pass the monk who’s stolen the magic beans – sorry – holy relics, are the Chapter House stairs at Wells Cathedral, Wells in Somerset.
This beautiful cathedral can also be seen in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth, The Golden Age, with Cate Blanchett, and famously not seen in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz (where it was digitally removed from the skyline to make the tiny city of Wells look like a village).
Norwich possesses a breathtaking vaulted ceiling, but it’s one of those would-be trendy churches determined not to be an ancient monument, so tends to be cluttered with bits of modern art and other ‘relevant’ stuff.
The woods of ‘Gantua’, land of the giants at the top of the beanstalk, are Bourne Wood near Farnham in Surrey, familiar from productions such as Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows.
But the dark, moss-filled forest into which Jack, Roderick and Elmont (Ewan McGregor) venture to find Isabelle is the strange and wonderfully-named Puzzlewood, a mile south of Coleford in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
A maze of pathways winding through 14 acres of gulleys, mossy rocks and the tangled roots of yew trees, Puzzlewood really does have a fairytale atmosphere all its own. In fact, JRR Tolkien is supposed to have taken his inspiration for the forests of Middle Earth from Puzzlewood, and it's easy to see why.
The forest has previously been used as a backdrop for TV series including Doctor Who, Merlin and Atlantis, but more recently became the forests of planet 'Takodana', where Rey (Daisy Ridley) encounters Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in JJ Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
To find the woods, follow the brown tourist signs from Coleford about a mile south to Perrygrove Road.