The pick and the scratch. Jack the Giant Slayer and thoughts on CGI nasal discharge

This is a short essay on computer animated snot. If that is not the sort of thing you want to waste your time doing, I totally understand. Ok, you’ve been warned….

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There’s a scene in Jack the Giant Slayer where Jack and the princess and a couple other adventurers are about to be cooked by one of the giants. And as he’s getting his giant kitchen prepared to slice and dice our heroes, he picks his nose. And he pulls out a giant rope of snot, which he then flicks to the floor. A couple of shots later, our giant gourmet cook scratches under one of his armpits and takes a whiff of his fingers before our newly minted giant slayer frees himself and fights the giant and yada yada….

The only thing I was thinking about while while the above couple of moments was… how much did those moments cost? The total budget of this movie is reported to be around $195,000,000. So I’m guessing the cost to animate and render his nose pick and pit scratch about, what, maybe ten or twenty thousand dollars?

Now don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy the movie. Bryan Singer knows his way around an action sequence. Ewan MacGregor and especially Stanley Tucci look to be having a hammy, good time. And one of the main villains is dispatched in a way that is pretty clever. Oh, the coda is pretty cool as well.

But back to the pick and the scratch. I’ve never been to Sundance. But I have seen many of the movies to come out of Sundance, and I wonder what those struggling filmmakers would have given to get that ten or twenty thousand dollars that Jack and the Giant Slayer uses on a throwaway gag? The pick and the scratch didn’t really advance the plot. And the offending giant…

SPOILER ALERT!!!

… gets killed by Jack…

OKAY, YOU CAN COME BACK NOW

… so it’s not like his action were advancing character. And I don’t want to sound elitist, but that’s not exactly what I’d call all that clever either. I don’t remember the Three Stooges ever resorting to that sort of nasal joke (yes, they were always sticking their fingers in each others noses, but that was to physically move them from one place to another, and not just for the sake of picking. They had a higher purpose.) Stooges_nose_photofest_lowres-detail-main

I wonder what the Bryan Singer of 1995 would think. Like most indie filmmakers, I’m sure he had to hustle and struggle to raise the $6,000,000 (according to IMDB) needed to make The Usual Suspects (which is still, by far, his best movie.) What would he think if he were told that, in eighteen years, he would make a movie with a CGI giant that would pick his nose and scratch his pits and it’d cost tens of thousands of dollars just to animate those few seconds? The snob in me would like to think he’s be repulsed and would NEVER resort to such low brow humor. But I’m guessing he’d probably say something like, “Someone’s gonna give me enough money to make a movie where I could spend THAT much on something so stupid? That’s awesome!”

So yeah… progress.

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