Movie Review: THE JUNGLE BOOK. Directed by Jon Favreau

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

the_jungle_bookTHE JUNGLE BOOK (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling

Review by Gilbert Seah

Favreau has proven himself a talented director of films as diverse as the action flicks IRONMAN and IRONMAN 2, comedy dramas as MADE and the drama CHEF. Tackling Disney animation is a totally different ball game with Favreau succeeding within limits. But he follows formulaic conventions occasionally going back to what works in the original animated JUNGLE BOOK like the familiar songs re-used in this version.

The 1969 animated version is the most loved of all the Kipling adaptations. Who can forget the cute bear Baloo (Phil Harris) dancing and singing “The Bare Necessities” with Mowgli? Or Sebastian Cabot’s voice of the Panther? So Favreau has tough shoes to follow.

The film opens with Mowgli (Neel Sethi) running with a pack of wolves. It appears he is running from them, but the audience can likely guess that he is running with them. Mowgli, abandoned as a baby and found by a panther (Ben Kingsley) is raised by wolves. But Shere Khan, the tiger (Idris Elba) wants the boy killed as the tiger is afraid of the destruction of man. The panther takes Mowgli on a journey to find the man camp where Mowgli can live away from fear of the tiger. Mowgli meets an assortment of different characters like King Louie, a giant oranghutan (Christopher Walken), Baloo the bear (Bill Murray) and Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) a python before confronting Khan.

THE JUNGLE BOOK has quite the few violent scenes that will give the littler ones nightmares. These include buffalos toppling off a cliff from a mudslide and a fierce battle between a tiger and bear.

CGI has come a long way. One cannot tell the difference between real animals and computer generated animals. To Favreau’s credit, his film looks fantastic and his hard work of filming just one actor, Sethi against a giant green blank screen pays off. The film uses the Simulcam technology (also used in James Cameron’s AVATAR) that allows Favreau to look into a monitor and in real time, see Sethi interacting with the CGI animals.

The question finally arises as to whether this new 3D live-action animation of THE JUGLE BOOK is necessary. The film ends with the real life figures of Mowgli and Baloo morphing into caricatures in the Rudyard Kipling’s book. This only serves to enforce the fact that the animated version is the best type of adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling’s classic story.

Walt Disney passed away during the production of 1969’s JUNGLE BOOK. The original writer and songwriter were replaced as the film was thought initially too serious for the family. What resulted are songs by the famous Sherman Brothers (MARY POPPINS, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG) and the the totally delightful animated version everyone is familiar with. Favreau’s version is, in comparison all over the place, at times cutesy, then too serious and violent and then adventurous. The Disneyworld documentaries have so far done so-so at the box-office. And Disney’s recent THE GOOD DINOSAUR with a similar theme involving animals and a journey was a disappointing flop. THE JUNGLE BOOK might just follow suit, doing either so-so business or flopping at the box-office.

 

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RIP Garry Shandling. Read his best quotes. #GarryShandling

The great Garry Shandling died today. In tribute to the great comedian, here are his best quotes:

Nice guys finish first. If you don’t know that, then you don’t know where the finish line is.

I practice safe sex – I use an airbag.

I don’t know why men are so fascinated with television and I think it has something to do with – if I may judge from my own father, who used to sit and stare at the TV while my mother was speaking to him – I think that’s a man’s way of tuning out.

Without comedy as a defense mechanism I wouldn’t be able to survive.

Women need to know that not all guys are going to hurt them the way that the guy did before they started dating me. I know guys I wouldn’t go out with.

They should put expiration dates on clothing so we men will know when they go out of style.

The best television series ever is probably The Twilight Zone.

Some people can fake it their whole lives.

I think it’s one of the main negative emotional ingredients that fuels show business, because there’s so much at stake and the fear of failure looms large.

But I really like hosting, I think it’s a strength of mine. It allows me to improvise, and I love the spontaneity of that, and I think I’m funny behind the desk when interviewing someone.

Everyone at a party is uncomfortable. Knowing that makes me more comfortable.

I feel that everything I do in my life I can do in a shorter time than most men can. It’s the quality, not the quantity.

I play basketball on Sundays and I’m a very spiritual guy; I read a lot of Eastern philosophy and I meditate.

I don’t like this reality television, I have to be honest, … I think real people should not be on television. It’s for special people like us, people who have trained and studied to appear to be real.

Read the “What I Learned” Garry Shandling interview from Esquiire:
http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/interviews/a1949/esq0103-jan-shandling/

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