Sunday, September 3, 2017

Baby Driver

I’ll forgive you if the name, ‘Edgar Wright’ does not immediately conjure up any specific movies (it didn’t for me either). Let me help a bro out – Edgar Wright is the director of films such as ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’, ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Tintin’. I’m actually a little bit sad that I didn’t know this before I went to watch Wright’s latest film, as I think it would have had an overall positive impact on my perception of the film. Nevertheless, I am happy to declare that Baby Driver is a marvellous outing, which will delight due its quirky strangeness and simultaneously exhilarate thanks to its constant intensity.  

If I had to identify a standout aspect of the film, it would have to be the film’s addictive sense of cool: There’s a highly engaging ebb and flow to Baby Driver that is a joy to experience and Wright takes his time to develop a sweet rhythm that will make it difficult not to fall in love with this film. An interesting use of a hip and funky soundtrack is partly to blame for Baby Driver’s infectious sense of coolness, as you’re likely to have your head bopping subconsciously at least halfway through the film.

"There’s a highly engaging ebb and flow to Baby Driver that is a joy to experience." 

But, at heart of Baby Driver’s enthralling nature lies stellar performances by an amazing ensemble cast: But else would you expect with a cast such as Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey? The show is however stolen by the title character, played by Ansel Elgort in a role that seems like it was made for him. Elgort is probably best known for his role in ‘Fault in our Stars’ and here, Elgort once again proves that he has a great knack for playing slightly awkward, but intriguing characters. For most of the film, you’ll find yourself with an awkward grin on your face, as you try to understand and process Elgort’s arb and sometimes uncomfortable behaviour. But, for every moment of awkwardness, there is a complementary moment of ‘Oh Snap!’, as Elgort flawlessly and constantly shifts between downright oddness and enticing suaveness.   

You don't want to get on the wrong side of this weirdo, believe me. 
Elgort’s constant shifts in demeanour are furthermore complemented by the overall film’s very own masterful shift between seriousness and goofiness. It’s in this quality that you’re most likely to recognise a resemblance to some of Elgort’s other standout films – Elgort once again shows off his knack for creating hybrid films that are as tense as they are hilarious. In Baby Driver, you are treated to both gorgeous looking action sequences and laugh-out-loud moments of intelligent dialogue – what more can a film junkie ask for?

Baby Driver is one of those almost perfect films that will provide any type of film goer with something to appreciate and hopefully, even love. Don’t be fooled by Baby Driver’s happy-go-lucky exterior (as presented by the trailers) though – there’s a lot of layers to peel off here and the process results in an exhilarating journey that you’re unlikely to forget anytime soon.  

Highlight: Basically any scene where Elgort is lip-syncing. 


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Wonder Woman

Before I start, let me just get this disclaimer out: No, I’m not a women’s rights activist and no, I don’t see a bit of myself in Wonder Woman (that would be awkward).  The reason why I simply adored this film was purely because it was a really fantastic one.

As we all know, Warner Bros. has not seen the greatest of successes from their last string of DC superhero instalments, with both the last Superman film and Suicide Squad scoring lower than intended with both box office fans and critics alike. Worse even, Warner Bros. can’t even use the excuse that grittier superhero movies are an impossible ask, as Marvel’s Logan took a very dark, dread-laden approach that paid off in spades. The DC movie universe needed a life line and I think even Warner Bros. themselves were surprised as to how well Wonder Women would be received.

The chemistry between Gadot and Pine is one of the movie's greatest assets.

Whilst I was watching Wonder Woman, I couldn’t help but recall fond memories of watching the Captain America films – both Captain America and Wonder Woman take a refreshingly understated approach to the superhero formula. Whilst both of the protagonists master noticeable powers that classify them as superheroes, they are far from being invincible, both from a physical and mental perspective. In the case of Wonder Woman, we are presented to a relatively naive character, with an almost unfaltering belief in the goodness of man. This naivety is both Wonder Woman’s greatest asset and curse, as it provides her with a solid drive for her actions, whilst simultaneously blinding her to the inherent darkness that lies within mankind.

In the hands of a less skilled actress, Wonder Women’s predisposition for hopefulness could have easily sunk the entire movie. Thank goodness for us, Gal Gadot imbues her character with the perfect balance of empathy and conviction, treating us to a superhero that is both believably human and mesmerizingly commanding on screen. It’s worth mentioning that Chris Pine’ also shines as the male lead, as he guides Gadot through a turbulent and emotional journey of self-discovery.


"...Gal Gadot imbues her character with the perfect balance of empathy and conviction, treating us to a superhero that is both believably human and mesmerizingly commanding on screen."


But if the only reason you want to watch Wonder Women is for amazing action sequences, then don’t fret, your prayers have definitely not gone unanswered. Due to amazing cinematography, a captivating score and spectacular special effects, virtually every action sequence of the film is an exhilarating experience, standing tall against some of the best the superhero film franchise has to offer.


Wonder Woman’s less dark and more cheerful demeanour stands in stark contrast to other recent DC superhero films and I’m very curious to see how its success will shape and inform the future of DC superhero films. Here’s hoping director Patty Jenkins has inspired Warner Bros. to revaluate their approach to the DC universe for the better. 

Highlight: Wonder Woman's very first fight during WW1 is simply breathtaking. 



Sunday, May 7, 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2

I must admit that I wasn’t expecting much from John Wick 1, which is why I was preparing myself for a run-of-the-mill popcorn-friendly action romp. But what I got, was so much more, as John Wick 1 turned out to be a completely ridiculous, intensely visceral, but extremely entertaining action adventure that left its mark on me.

So when I heard that John Wick was returning for a second outing, I was understandably excited by the potential for yet another ridiculous, but undeniably entertaining cinematic bloodbath. What I didn’t however expect was an evolution of the John Wick formula of outrageousness into something more considered and even more enticing.

John Wick 2 shows a more sophisticated side of our bloody hero.

In a nutshell, John Wick Chapter 2 brings yet more of the same over-the-top violent action that made its predecessor an instant classic, but this time around, adds an inspired degree of desperation to the mix, resulting in an extremely tense and thrilling action fiasco. Think ‘James Bond on drugs’.

Of course, Keanu Reeves returns as the silent, but undeniably violent protagonist that is on a mission to kill a few dozen baddies – and this time around, the stakes are even higher, as Wick loses more than just a dog this time. Because of these higher stakes, Wick’s approach to his task is noticeably more considered than it was previously. Wick also feels much less invincible than he was in the first movie, resulting in a much tenser and nerve-wracking experience for film goers. Dare I say it, the film even presents a thought-provoking look at the life of a hired gun.

"Wick also feels much less invincible than he was in the first movie, resulting in a much tenser and nerve-wracking experience for film goers."


The film’s action sequences also benefit from the same sense of evolution, with each scene thankfully not coming across as a mere copy-and-paste of the previous. There is a slickness and brilliant sense of movement to the film’s energetic action sequences that fans of action films are likely to appreciate.

If you’re a fan of over-the-top action films and don’t mind a generous side serving of style, then John Wick: Chapter 2 is a film you cannot miss. 

Highlight: A castle infiltration scene is as slick as it is intense.  




Monday, April 10, 2017

Logan

The X-Men movie franchise has had its fair share of ups and downs. And even as a die-hard X-Men fan, I have to admit that many of the franchise installments have been clear misses. Take one of the more recent X-Men films as an example – Apocalypse: a spectacular CGI experience but one noticeably devoid of true soul and character, making it hard to care for the plight of the mutants that drives its story. This seems to have been one of the most obvious shortcomings of the franchise, i.e. the creation of a world with characters that you truly learn to love, hate and ultimately care for.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as Logan, the latest X-Men movie doesn’t only manage to be a runway success, but goes a step further by completely re-establishing the franchise’s standing in the superhero cinematic universe. But who would have guessed that the franchise’s redemption would end up coming from one of the franchise’s ‘spin-offs’, especially if one considers how average all the previous Wolverine stand-alone films have been.

One the other side, one can argue that since Hugh Jackman has been fulfilling the role of Wolverine since the film franchise’s inception he has had ample time to sink his claws into one of the most iconic characters in comic book history. But ironically enough, it’s a radical departure from Hugh Jackman’s original take on the Wolverine that makes this movie so profound.

Wolverine has seen better days, but so has all of us...
But none of that would have been of course possible without the vision and guidance of director James Mangold, who treats fans to a very different version of the X-Men world that we have grown accustom to. If the prequel X-Men films deal with the group’s struggles in finding a place in society and the X-Men films set in the present day deals with their struggles in maintaining that position, then Logan very much represents the end of the line for the X-Men. In this not-so-distant future, the mutant race is virtually extinct and those that have survived have been ostracised by humankind. It’s a terribly bleak and dread-filled context, but one that feels completely logical and plausible, which is part of the reason why the film hits one so hard.

In a world where the X-Men have no more purpose, there is very little to do but to wait out the days until there is no more waiting to be done. This setting provides Wolverine and Profession Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with a highly volatile and engaging platform for a superhero film that breaks most of the genre’s stereotypes. If Wolverine represents the process of coming to terms with the mutant race’s inevitable fate, then Xavier represents the last strand of hope that a future for mutants might still exist somewhere. It’s this contrast in worldviews that drives the film’s most moving and powerful moments and thanks to gritty performances by both actors, makes for a mesmerising movie experience.

"It’s this contrast in worldviews that drives the film’s most moving and powerful moments and thanks to gritty performances by both actors, makes for a mesmerising movie experience."


Let’s of course not forget that Logan is still very much an action film and for this reason, you can expect some spectacular action sequences. Be warned though, these are not the action sequences that you have come to expect from an X-Men film. As the R rating suggests, Logan is loaded with unfiltered and extremely violent moments, some of which might be hard to stomach for the average X-Men fan. But as the film develops, you start to appreciate their role in highlighting the desperation of the film’s characters within the context of a world that they are clearly unwelcome in, but still desperately try to cling onto.

Be warned, Logan might test your limits and is definitely a clear departure from previous X-Men films. But it’s in the context of this risky departure from the series’ roots that the film’s success is so much sweeter. Logan is that rare superhero movie that cannot be compared to anything that has come before it and will take you on a cinematic adventure that is likely to leave you in awe. 

Highlight: A moving conversation between Xavier and Wolverine during one of the quieter moments of the film.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Manchester by the Sea

My favourite film of 2016 is relatively low key, to be honest. Manchester by the Sea tells the story of an uncle (played by Casey Affleck) who learns that his brother who has passed away has made him the sole guardian of his nephew (played Lucas Hedges). This forces Affleck to return to the town where he was born and raised, as he attempts to come to terms with the terrible events that transpire there and the life and people he lost.

Let’s not beat around the bush – I can’t recall any film where the performance of a single actor has left me as affected. In my humble opinion, Casey Affleck’s role as Lee Chandler is simply put, one of the best on-screen performances that I have had the privilege of experiencing. My appreciation for the authenticity by which Affleck portrays the extremely traumatising experiences of his emotionally blunted character is something that is difficult to put into words, but let me have bash at it anyways.

It's the film's smaller moments that shine the brightest.

Although Affleck delivers poignant moments during the film’s more emotionally laden scenes, It’s not only in the moments of sheer heartache and dread that Affleck’s portrayal of Chandler shines. Some of the film’s best moments come from Affleck’s masterfully sincere depiction of his broken characters’ reaction to every day life in everyday situations. Due to Affleck’s highly nuanced and considered performance, the impact of Chandler’s tragic past becomes apparent in every word, every facial expression that he utters. Throughout the film, Chandler is desperately trying to keep his dangerously thin emotional veneer from cracking in order to stay strong for those who need him. Affleck does an exceptional job at showcasing the effort and toll that this takes on his character and there’s a sincerity and realism here that attests of an acting capacity way beyond Affleck’s years.

"Due to Affleck’s highly nuanced and considered performance, the impact of Chandler’s tragic past becomes apparent in every word, every facial expression that he utters."


But there’s more to Manchester by the Sea than Casey Affleck’s performance itself. Kenneth Lonergan does a spectacular job at getting sincere and honest moments out of the entirety of this cast, resulting in a film where the characters feel painfully familiar and real. Special nod to Michelle Williams as Affleck’s former wife and Lucas Hedges as Affleck’s nephew. The film’s engrossing sense of familiarity is further amplified by a noticeably simple filming style and minimalist score. All of these elements work together to create an understated and highly authentic cinematic experience.

There’s a lot more I can say about this masterpiece of a film, but at the end of the day, all you really need to know is that this is a film that everyone needs to see. Whether you’re a fan of intensely moving dramas or not, this is the type of film that is most likely to give you a new sense of appreciation for the craft of acting and film making in general. And even if you’ve been fortunate enough not to yet have experienced a similar degree of heartache as the film’s damaged protagonist, watching this film will give you a revealing an authentic glimpse into the pain that comes with the most sour of lemons life can possibly throw at you. 

Highlight: When Affleck is confronted with the reality of what happened to his children. 


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Moonlight

Without even watching a trailer or reading a synopsis of what Moonlight was about before I eventually saw it, I had the advantage of going into the film with little pretense of what to expect. Looking back at this now, I am so relieved that I decided not to read up on the film much before, as it allowed the film to completely take me by surprise, resulting in one of the most poignant and moving film experiences I’ve had to date.

Over the years I have come to understand that I have an obvious propensity for films with raw, real and moving performances. It’s no wonder then that I regard the intense and brilliant performances by Moonlight’s actors as the crowning achievement of this film. I can count at least 3 scenes in Moonlight where I was so engrossed in the on-screen interactions that I momentarily forgot that I was in a movie theatre. To try and describe these scenes in individual detail will not however do anyone any good – you simply need to experience them for yourself.

Every scene is deeply meaningful and moving, without exception.

Except for the jaw-dropping performances from Moonlight’s stellar ensemble cast, it’s also important to highlight the film’s beautiful cinematography and genius pacing. The combination of these two elements results in a gorgeously patient film that tells an agonising life story spanning across 3 different points in time. In the hands of a less skilled director, such a fragmented chronology would have been the demise of the film, but Barry Jenkins manages to weave together these individual strands into a rich cinematic tapestry that leaves one deeply affected.

"In the hands of a less skilled director, such a fragmented chronology would have been the demise of the film, but Barry Jenkins manages to weave together these individual strands into a rich cinematic tapestry that leaves one deeply affected."


This is not even to mention how important and daring of a film Moonlight is and I praise it for its considered, but raw approach to highlighting the untold plight that many racial and sexual minorities still face today. Even though we live in a time where these minority groups enjoy the highest degree of freedom ever, the deeply-rooted stereotypes and conventions of society still prevent many from living their lives to their full potential.

The film highlights an important, but unsettling problem that not everyone might be ready to face, but Jenkins and his cast highlights it in such a deeply authentic and moving way, that it’s impossible to claim ignorance any longer. A film with a powerful story, told in a heart-rending, but beautifully respectful way – truly, film making at its best. 

Highlight: The film's emotionally poignant final scene still haunts my memories, months after I saw it. 


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Arrival

Although one can argue that the advancement of modern CGI and film technology in general has enabled sci-fi film creators to bring to life their ideas much more effectively than ever before, one can also point out that the same advancements have made the industry over-reliant on these mechanisms. It’s easy to fall into the alluring trap of an excessive dependence on the visual aspect of a sci-fi film, which frequently leads to sci-fi romps that are more style than substance.

I’m happy to however report that Arrival masterfully sidesteps this trap, treating its audience to a refreshingly surprising sci-fi adventure that is equal parts thrilling and thought provoking. But please don’t misconstrue this observation as inferring that Arrival isn’t also a great looking sci-fi film: Arrival is exceptionally polished and although its CGI is not as indulgent as what we have come to expect from the genre, the film uses just the right sprinkle of CGI trickery needed to draw you into its enticingly strange, but at the same time, deliberately familiar world.


"...the film uses just the right sprinkle of CGI trickery needed to draw you into its enticingly strange, but at the same time, deliberately familiar world."


If there’s one standout quality of this film that differentiates it from the rest of its genre then it has to be its distinctly measured pace. In Arrival, humankind decides to take a refreshingly diplomatic approach to the potential alien threat, rather opting to try and understand the reason behind the alien race’s arrival before deciding on appropriate action.  Whilst this in itself might not sound like the most exciting cinematic plot for an alien invasion movie, it comes over as a much more plausible real world 2016 eventuality, resulting in a film that feels even more realistic and therefore, also involving.

Teaching someone else a new language, whilst simultaneously learning a new one yourself, is definitely PhD level affairs.
The film’s protagonist is also not your typical gun-blazing patriot who enjoys spewing out cheesy action lines before dishing out a can of proverbial whoop-ass on the alien race. Enter Dr Louise Banks, an accomplished and determined linguistics professor who specialises in translation work, tasked to lead a team aiming to decipher the alien race’s highly advanced language system. Amy Adams is simply put, amazing in this role and I’m confident in declaring it as one of her most commanding on-screen performances to date. Dr Banks is as professional and contained as one would expect a high-profile academic to be, but as the film progresses, she finds it harder and harder to hide the cracks in her elaborately woven emotional armour. Adams does a fantastic job at transitioning between her character’s various emotional states, the result of a complex combination of her troubled past, the immense pressure of her present situation and even, her future to be. The last time I recall a sci-fi film taking this much care in the development of its lead was back in 1997, with Jodie Foster in Contact.

Adams also becomes the main vehicle for how director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) develops the film’s most enthralling and thought provoking themes. Although there are potentially endless thematic layers to Arrival (such as the intricacies of global politics, the fragility of human connections etc.) that one can delve into here, I myself was most intrigued by the film’s commentary on the role that language plays in shaping the reality of one’s world. The film’s argument for the benefits of learning a new language was so poignant to me, that it has actually motivated me to take up another language in the near future. I mention this to illustrate how involving and satisfying Arrival as a film experience was for me. There definitely hasn’t been another film this year that has left me with this much to think about and this is why I’m happy to announce it as my favourite film of 2016.

If you make the right choice (that is, to go and see this film of course), you’ll be treated to a refreshingly intelligent, but also non-pretentious sci-fi masterpiece that forces its audience to readjust their assumptions of what a sci-fi film should and shouldn’t be. And if you’re lucky, Arrival might even treat you to an experience that leads to a shift in the way you see the world. Either way, it’s easily one of the best ways to spend 2 hours this year.   

Highlight: The film's climactic ending is highly satisfying and expertly brings this great film full circle. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hello, my name is Doris

The older I get, the more I start to appreciate the value in not knowing anything about a film before I go to see it. Case in point: 'Hello, my name is Doris', a character dramedy with an unconventional plot line and intriguing main protagonist played by Sally Field,  best known for her role in the drama series, Brothers & Sisters.
At first sight, the film seems to be nothing more than a slightly off-center romantic rom-com, but as the plot develops, you start to realise that the film contains an exceptional degree of layered complexity that makes it surprisingly enthralling.
Doris herself is an awkward 60+ year old accountant, suffering from a few mental disorders and a severe lack of emotional intelligence. But weirdly enough, all of this makes her highly intriguing to a modern culture of 'hipsterism', leading to Doris' weaknesses all being perceived as intriguing quirks within the context of the ironic world of Generation Y.
A match made in hipster heaven.
Although most of the film's best humorous moments sprouts from the way Doris' newfound younger friends perceive her and the situations it leads to, the film never resorts to hyperbolizing the situations that Doris finds herself in. Because of this, the film allows it itself to be infectiously funny, whilst at the same time, delivering thoughtful social commentary on today's modern generation.
Another of the film's greatest strengths is the depths of its character study. Although there are moments where Doris is irritating, aggravating and painfully awkward, you cannot help but develop a deep sense of empathy for her predicament, as you find yourself rooting for this unlikely anti-hero.
"Although there are moments where Doris is irritating, aggravating and painfully awkward, you cannot help but develop a deep sense of empathy for her predicament, as you find yourself rooting for this unlikely anti-hero."
The rest of the cast also do a great job in giving the film a true sense of honesty and grounding, creating a considered juxtaposition between Doris' more longer standing relationships and those with her newest community of friends. Special mention to Max Greenfield (Doris' love interest), Stephen Root and Tyne Daly.
Lastly, don't expect any form of fulfilment by the end of this film. Hello,  my name is Doris isn't the type of film that tries to hold its viewer's hand and instead leaves the final conclusion very much up in the air, a subtle 'zap sign' to romantic comedies who insults their audience center with predictable endings.
Highlight: Mid-way through the film,  Doris attends an electronic concert. The amount of fun that this 60+ year old lady has at the event puts any younger folk to shame.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Warcraft

It’s not often that I’m inspired to write a review of a film that by all standard and objective metrics of measurement, can be considered a ‘bad movie’.  In this case, my drive to write the review comes from my intense connection with and dare I call it ‘love’ for the source material itself. And in most cases, I’ll admit, I think this is one of the most dangerous positions from which to assess the quality of a film. Very rarely does a film adaption live up to the unjustly high expectations that fan boys place on them.

It’s for this reason that I entered the cinema with, what I believed to be a very open, unassuming frame of mind regarding what to expect from Warcraft, a film adaptation of one of the most iconic strategy PC games ever created. Sadly, even with my open minded approach to what I was about to experience, I have to admit, Warcraft was a massive disappointment that is unlikely to satisfy fantasy film lovers or fans of the original game series.

The first and most painstakingly obvious issue with Warcraft is the negative impact of an extreme degree of post-production editing. Most (if not almost all) scenes of the film feel like they were cut short by a considerable amount more than what was originally planned or expected (possibly to try and get the final film down to a specific runtime), resulting in a constant feeling that every scene in the movie has been rushed. Not only does this lead to a muddled up plotline (many motivations and plot mechanisms feel poorly contextualised), but even more damagingly, leads to a apparent lack of character development and ultimately, a group of characters that you don’t care much for.

Durotan is the only character with a considerable degree of depth.
This became most apparent to me when I realised I had experiences no sense of emotional significance during a scene that I presume was attended to be one of the film’s most moving. This bland and uninvolving quality to the film is by far the most frustrating and disappointing aspect thereof, as when I look back at the Warcraft gaming series itself, the games’ distinctive personality and atmosphere are one of the series’ greatest accomplishments. Sure, director Duncan Jones (best known for directing ‘Moon’ and also being David Bowie’s offspring) might have not intended on creating a film with an immense of amount of depth and substance (the Warcraft games don’t have the most profound story anyways), but this didn’t have to be at the expense of the film’s heart and conviction.

Something that amplifies the film’s overarching issues even more are some painful casting, dialogue and acting issues. Most of the film’s characters come over as so stereotypical in their personalities and approach that you sometimes wonder if some of them weren’t meant to function as ironic commentary on the fantasy film genre. From the sickly righteous, but ignorant king to the awkwardly insecure young mage figure – Warcraft’s cast doesn’t do much to elevate the film above the clichés of its genre.

"From the sickly righteous, but ignorant king to the awkwardly insecure young mage figure – Warcraft’s cast doesn’t do much to elevate the film above the clichés of its genre."


But it’s not all doom and gloom, humans. On the bright side, Warcraft boasts some amazing CGI and action sequences that complements a generous helping of cinema popcorn. For fans of the game series itself, the film contains a deliberate sprinkling of fanfare and nostalgic nods to the source material that you’re sure to appreciate. The film’s score is also aptly anthemic, helping to lend some much needed drama to some of the film’s bigger moments. 

There are some amazing action sequences, but it's not enough to redeem the film.
Considering the heritage and potential that the source material offered for creating an epic and immersive fantasy experience, it’s impossible to ignore the magnitude of the missed opportunity that Warcraft the film represents.  And to make things worse, I’m not even confident in labelling Warcraft as an ‘average’ film. If the Narnia series of films represent the average quality of the fantasy film standard, then I’m afraid that Warcraft is far below the standards of what we’ve come to expect from the genre. To be completely frank, Warcraft actually manages to put the genre back a few years to a time before Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s my sincere hope that Blizzard learns from the failure that is Warcraft and uses it as a case study of how not to approach their next cinematic outing.

Lowlight: The film includes (in my opinion) one of the most painful, derivative and cheap ‘my family has died and now I need to go get drunk to illustrate to the audience that I am grieving’ scenes that I have ever witnessed in a film. Luckily, due to the film’s baffling degree of editing, the scene isn’t long enough to cause any permanent mental damage. 


Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Jungle Book

Remakes are all the craze these days. Whilst they have been most prevalent in the superhero genre lately, there has also been some noticeable remakes across other film genres. One of the latest of these is a reliving of Walt Disney’s classic tale, The Jungle Book. What makes this remake particularly remarkable is that instead of the film being a standard animation (like its predecessor), the film has been re-envisioned as a real-life adventure, with of course, a substantial degree of assistance from modern day CGI artistry.

When I first heard that a remake of this scale was being undertaken, I must admit, I was understandably skeptical. How well would the charm and wonder of the original film translate in this new real-life format? Fortunately, Jon Favreau, best known for his directorial credits behind two of the Iron Man films, seems to be fully aware and considerate of the legacy that the film has, providing a cinematic experience that feels both new and charmingly nostalgic.

Not only has Favreau done a great job in introducing this enchanting tale to a modern day audience, but he has also managed to imbue the film with a unique atmosphere, which effectively distinguishes it from its original source material. Where the original Jungle Book was mostly known for its distinct sense of charm, Favreau’s version adds a deliberate sprinkling of tension and even, dark drama. Noted that the original film did also have some tense and darker moments, but in the new film, Favreau utilises his real-life canvas masterfully to amplify the inherently darker side of the Jungle Book tale.Whilst I must admit, I’m not sure if this new version is as suitable for kids of all ages (as the original), it does make for a captivating and addictively tense adventure film.

"Not only has Favreau done a great job in introducing this enchanting tale to a modern day audience, but he has also managed to imbue the film with a unique atmosphere, which effectively distinguishes it from its original source material."

The best achievement here, is that this darker and tenser atmosphere does not come at the expense of the original film’s characteristic charm - Favreau has managed to perfectly balance the film’s darker moments with poignant and whimsical feel-good moments, which are helped along greatly by including renditions of some of the orginal film’s signature musical pieces. 

All the necessities of a classic.
Another standout aspect of the film is its stellar CGI effects that make it possible to tell the Jungle Book story in a way that would never before have been possible. These amazing effects are also complemented with powerful performances from an A-list Hollywood voice acting cast, which include Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley and the film’s brightest star, Neel Sethi fulfilling the role of the film’s beloved protagonist, Mowgli.

The truth of the matter is that there really isn’t much to fault when it comes to this film. Not only does this new take on Jungle Book do justice to the film’s respected heritage, but it also imbues it with new qualities, that take it beyond the labeling of a mere remake. It’s a film that needs to be seen by both fans of the original and those that are still to be mesmerised by its legacy. 

Highlight: King Louie's scene is terrifying and wondrous all at once. A perfect example of all the elements that make this film exceptional.