The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

There is a down and dirty street fight a-rumblin’ between The Jungle Book and The Jungle Book: Origins. Both are adaptations of Rudyard Kipling‘s classic boy-meets-bear novel “The Jungle Book.” Both are releasing within a year of each other, with the former (backed up by Disney and director Jon Favreau) coming next October, and the latter (WB and Andy Serkis) set to launch next next October. Prepare yourself for at least a solid year of back and forth Three Stooges eye-gouging between the two. Today is the first meeting of finger and soft, unguarded eyeball. The Hollywood Reporter has the first piece of casting for Serkis’ Jungle Book: Origins, and it happens to be really, really stellar casting: Benedict Cumberbatch will play the skulking, boy-hungry tiger Shere Khan. Picture in your mind’s eye, a staggeringly lifelike digital tiger, a la Life of Pi. Except when he opens that fanged maw, a regal Smaug smoothness pours out (probably not as deep in tone as Smaug’s was, but you never know). As he pads about, the slinky English lilt in his voice barely disguises how much he would enjoy disemboweling and consuming us all.

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The Jungle Book

It’s about to be, well, a jungle out there (sorry) as both Walt Disney Pictures and Warner Bros. are hellbent on giving the world a new version of The Jungle Book. So, yes, two versions of The Jungle Book, a beloved children’s book that has already been turned into a movie plenty of times before. But while we wait to hear more about about Andy Serkis‘ feature (that’s the Warner Bros. film, and one that is apparently set to be titled Jungle Book: Origins, because it sounds appropriately sci-fi, oh wait, what?), Jon Favreau‘s set-to-be-CGI-heavy take on the material continues to know it out of the park when it comes to casting. The latest addition to the cast — Bill Murray as Baloo, come on, people – just proves that, no matter what the final outcome is, this new Jungle Book has a solid lineup of talent behind it. But who is everyone playing? Baloo is the bear, right? What’s a Kaa? Who is Raksha? We got you on this. It’s time to relive your childhood.

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Christopher Walken in The Country Bears

The Jungle Book is seriously crushing the casting game right now. This morning, Deadline revealed that two new actors have come aboard the all-singing, all-dancing, all-CG wildlife pic directed by Jon Favreau (as opposed to the other one, coming from Andy Serkis). Giancarlo Esposito, best known for portraying a dark-universe Colonel Sanders on Breaking Bad, will play the wolf Akela. And Christopher Walken, best known for a lifetime of skeezing people out by being Christopher Walken, will play the orangutan King Louie. Those two extra-talented thespians join Ben Kingsley as the panther Bagheera (yes, splendid), Lupita Nyong’o as mother wolf Raksha (really, really great), Scarlett Johansson as the python Kaa (this is perfect) and Idris Elba as the film’s antagonist, the tiger Shere Khan (good god yes). Also, there’s some newcomer named Neel Sethi playing Mowgli, but  he is not a well-loved Hollywood star voicing an extremely appropriate animal character. Temper your excitement accordingly.

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Fox

The above image is what might happen if an actor forgets his lines on the set of The Jungle Book. According to THR, Andy Serkis is making the jump from playing apes of all sizes and second unit directing for The Hobbit to making his first feature. Just to be clear, this is the Warners Bros. live-action version and not the Disney live-action version being directed by Jon Favreau. If a third studio decides they want to have a say in Rudyard Kipling’s classic, it’ll get confusing. Warners has a steady history of taking interesting risks, and this is a perfect example of something that’s yawn-worthy being transformed by a left-field hire. The sound you just heard is attention being piqued. Or created altogether. Before Serkis, the prospect of another version of the little boy lost story was more what-happened-to-creativity nonsense, but that doesn’t mean that the project gets a stamp of approval all the sudden. Still, Serkis is an inspired choice. The rare actor making the jump to directing who has not only trained with a great talent, but who has worked alongside one in Peter Jackson.

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Ron Howard

With director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel) dropping out of the project due to scheduling issues related to post-production duties on his latest film, Birdman, Warner Bros. has approached Ron Howard to take the helm on their live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. The script, written by screenwriter Callie Kloves, is an adaptation from novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling’s short stories featuring feral jungle child, Mowgli, and his animal pals Bagheera and Baloo, and the ever awful Bengal tiger, Shere Khan.

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header discs all is lost

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. All Is Lost Robert Redford stars as a man sailing solo who encounters trouble out at sea. He awakens to the impact of his sailboat colliding with a derelict shipping container and quickly sets about trying to fix the damage before catastrophe occurs. His experience grows increasingly precarious, and soon he’s fighting against nature and circumstance for his very life. Writer/director J.C. Chandor‘s follow-up to the excellent Wall Street drama Margin Call is even more engaging, but it accomplishes the feat through an opposite degree of dialogue. While that film was filled with fast-talk and lots of it, Redford’s character is the only one onscreen here leaving him no one to talk to but himself. (Sure, that didn’t stop Sandra Bullock from being a lonely chatterbox in Gravity, but this is a smarter movie.) The drama and suspense build naturally here as we work alongside the sailor in his efforts, and the script treats viewers as intelligent enough to follow along without needing every detail spelled out. This is a beautiful film about strength, resiliency, and the will to survive. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]

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junglebooktruth-1

As much as I love the classic early Disney animated films, the 2D animation revival of the 80s and 90s, and the modern 3D computer generated films the studio makes today, I have a real soft spot for the rustic animation from the 60s and 70s. Movies like 101 Dalmatians, Robin Hood, and The Jungle Book have a charm to their style of rough pencil drawings coming through the ink and paint. With The Jungle Book coming out on Blu-ray on February 11, it gave me a chance to revisit this spirited classic, which happens to be the final animated feature that Walt Disney was personally involved with before his death in 1966. Watching this again reminded me of seeing a re-release trailer for the film in the 1980s with a friend, and hearing him exclaim: “There are no bears in the jungle.” This got me thinking… would all the animals in The Jungle Book ever interact in real life?

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The Jungle Book

Over the summer, it was announced that Disney would be opening their vault and re-introducing the world to one of its most beloved classics, The Jungle Book, in the form of a trendy live-action adaptation. I like to imagine that the Disney vault is an actual place in Anaheim guarded by Walt’s cryogenically frozen body, but that’s a theory I should save for my B-movie. Now, The Hollywood Reporter is back with more news about the project, namely that Jon Favreau is in talks with the studio to direct. Favreau is no stranger to directing for the Disney family. After all, he’s the man behind the Iron Man franchise and Elf. After leaving the nest to make an indie called Chef, Favreau has heard the sweet call of the House of Mouse once more, to helm the remake written by Justin Marks. Here’s the thing, though: we all know that The Jungle Book got a delightful live-action adaptation in 1994, right? Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera were all brought to life with Cary Elwes, Sam Neill, Lena Headey and John Cleese in supporting roles. John Cleese. Disney has a bit of a thing for turning their animated gems into vehicles with flesh-and-blood movie stars. There haven’t been many, but the list is continuing to expand. After The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians had its dog day in 1996 with the star-studded cast of the truly terrifying Glenn Close, her henchmen Mark Williams and Hugh Laurie and an amiable Jeff Daniels as Pongo’s dad Roger. Not […]

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Culture Warrior

I’m not a parent, but I know that you’re a bad one. You know why? Because you probably took your kids to see Cars 2 this weekend. I know what you’re thinking: “What’s wrong with Cars 2, it’s just a harmless little kids movie.” Well, it’s destroying America with it’s anti-oil message, indoctrinating our children to become Prius-buying, David Simon-worshipping tree huggers so the late-term-aborting hippie liberals at Pixar can do their part in carrying out Hollywood’s takeover of family values. You’re probably thinking, “But Landon, children typically don’t understand subtext. And when children grow up in a free democratic society such as ours they often question for themselves the values and ideas they were exposed to as children and eventually adopt a perspective that makes the most sense to them, thus making your use of ‘indoctrination’ hyperbolic and short-sighted. Anyway, even if they did understand what Pixar was doing, children don’t give a ratatouille’s ass about politics, the free market, offshore drilling, or our over-reliance on fossil fuels. They just want to watch a movie about talking cars. Also, being a child of the late 80s/early 90s, you grow up with a lot of environmentally-aware children’s entertainment like Jim Henson’s TV show Dinosaurs and movies like FernGully and The Brave Little Toaster, yet those didn’t inform your political perspective in either direction just as they didn’t make you think dinosaurs wore clothes and acted like the cast of All in the Family.” That would all be fine and dandy […]

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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