'X-Men' filmmaker Bryan Singer says his new film takes him in a very different direction
After an eight-year hiatus, Bryan Singer returns to the superhero fold this weekend with "X-Men: First Class," a film he conceived and produced. But fans will get another side of the filmmaker when he comes out with "Jack the Giant Killer," a new take on a classic piece of British folklore, next year.
Singer, who is currently in London working on the movie, told 24 Frames that while a classic fairy tale is a switch for him, he believes it's a welcome one. "I think this is the antidote to 'Valkyrie,' " he said, referring to his Tom Cruise WWII movie from 2008, which involved the attempt to slay a very different sort of villain.
"With that movie, I was so obsessed with the accuracy and the history and the detail, and this film is a fantastical time in England. It's not pegged to a particular time in history, and it deals with fun and broad characters," the "X-Men" auteur said (more on him and that film shortly).
"Jack" -- which counts among its writers Singer's "Usual Suspects" and "Valkyrie" collaborator Christopher McQuarrie -- plays off an English fairy tale of unknown origin. In many of the incarnations, it involves a poor country boy who slays evil giants during King Arthur's reign. (It's often associated with the fairy tale of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk, in which the hero also faces off with a giant.)
Singer's take on the archetype centers on a farmhand who accidentally opens a door between worlds allowing non-human giants into our universe, in turn motivating Jack to attempt to slay the giants and rescue a princess to boot.
The battle between humans and inhumans is bound to draw some comparisons to the "X-Men" franchise. But the filmmaker said that in at least one respect, his upcoming film deviates from his well-known superhero work. "It's the first time in one of my films that there's a romance that's not fraught with a love triangle," he said. Then he added, giving a small laugh, "The simpleness of this romance is my cure for all the love triangles that permeated the 'X-Men.' "
"Jack" stars Nicholas Hoult, who appears as Beast in the new "X-Men," as the title character. For "Deadwood" fans, the film also offers the added bonus of seeing Ian McShane in a feature role. (He plays the princess' unhappy father.)
Fairy tales have become all the rage in Hollywood -- witness the battle to get "Snow White" to the screen -- and Singer said his film fits squarely in that mold. But he also said that rather than just retell a story, he wanted to explore the art of narrative itself.
"I think this takes it a step further -- it's all about the nature of storytelling," he said. "The tale is told by certain characters, and then it gets retold. It shows you can't separate the story from the way it's told."
Photo: "X-Men." Credit: 20th Century Fox