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Disney’s The Jungle Book

17 Apr


Disney’s The Jungle Book.  First off it is safe to say this movie is less about Disney’s Jungle Book the animated version (1967) as much as it pays more attention to Rudyard Kiplings book.

The new version is live action with amazing CGI that brings you right in to the Jungle world of man-cub Mowgli, played well by new comer, Neel Sethi. The film has a PG rating and some scenes might be a bit too realistic for the very young. The casting is superb, Ben Kingsly as Bagheera the panther who found Mowgli as an infant and gave him to the wolves to raise as their own, Lupito Nyong’o plays the Raksha Mowgli’s wolf mother, Idris Elba as Shere Khan the tiger who wants Mowgli dead, Scarlette Johansson as the snake Kaa, Christopher Walken as King Louis the King of the apes, and the wonderful Bill Murray as Baloo the bear.
The only resemblance to the animated version is three songs lifted from that film:
1: Bill Murray as Baloo in an effort to befreind Mowgli after enlisting him into retreaving honey for him from live bees nests, sings the song Bear Neccesities with Mowgli. Rather than a disconnected musical number, Murray plays it as way to understand Baloo’s character and give dimension to his relationship with Mowgli. Not only is it pure Murray but it is a joy to watch, like a peacful float down a river.
2. When we first meet Christopher Walken as King Louis sitting on a throne in an ancient jungle temple, he comes across as The Godfather with a hidden agenda. He sings I Want To Be Like You so incidiously ,telling of his plot to get the red flower (FIRE), from the man-cub so he can take power and control the jungle, you can only think what a perfect choice he was to play the part. He sings it in a way that let’s you see inside him and understand just how power hungry and crazy he is. Not unlike any dictator he uses his underlings to capture the man-cub so they can negotiate face to face.
3. Lastly stay for the end credits, because there is a lot going on, a reprise of I want To Be Like You and the third song, Trust In Me sung by Kaa.
The film is a winner all around and incidently it is also Gary Shandlings last film he plays a minor character Ikki the Porcupine. (Very well too I might add.)
I saw it in 3D and the world you are drawn into like Avatar before it is complete and all consuming. Go and enjoy.


22 Jun

Synopsis:  Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

Voice – Cast:

Kelly McDonald…………………………………….Merida

Billy Connolly………………………………………..Fergus

Emma Thompson…………………………………….Elinor

Julie Walters………………………………………The Witch

Robbie Coltrane……………………………..Lord Dingwall

Kevin McKidd……………Lord MacGuffin/Young & Old

Craig Furgeson………………………………Lord Macintosh

Review:  Pixar/Disney’s new animated adventure Brave is upon us, as all Pixar’s films, it is breathtaking in it’s artistry.  Is it is as groundbreaking as say Toy Story, Wall E or Up were in story telling, no, however that said it is a solid story with Celtic mysticism and strong female role models.  The story takes it’s nod from Disney’s princess stories and turns them on their head. Princess Merida is shown at first as a young child, on her birthday her father Fergus gives her a bow and arrows and she becomes determined to be the best archer she can be. She is strong willed and as her mother Queen Elinor tries to give her lessons on how a Princess is supposed to act Merida will have none of it.

The day comes when Merida is old enough to get married and her mother arranges a competition between the sons of the other three Scottish clans to win Merida’s hand. Merida reluctantly goes along with it, protesting along the way.  Merida now a master archer decides which contest the three first born (following tradition) son’s will have to win, she chooses archery. When it becomes clear all three sons are not worth her time Merida decides to break tradition and she hits the bulls-eye and decides to go her own way. King Fergus is sort of a Celtic Tevya (Fiddler on the Roof) and the situation is reminiscent of Tevya’s daughter Tzeitle wanting to marry her true love not be forced into an arranged marriage.

Fabulous imagery abounds in the Celtic woods, the Willow-the -Wisps stand out as an obvious nod to the sprites and spirits of the films of Japanese Master animator Hayao Miyazaki, think Spirited Away. The story of bonding , mending relationships and finding your own fate also are Miyazaki themes.

This is a story about mother-daughter conflict, love, bonding and resolve. Like Disney Princess films there are funny gags, secondary characters for comedy relief and a selfish prince who was transformed into a angry bear. Merida wanting to change her fate and not follow in her mother’s path that has been set before her, runs away into the woods and meets a witch who givers her a spell that will change her mother. Too late Merida finds out the spell is the same Bear spell she cast upon the prince. Only mending the broken bond between Merida and her Mother before the second sunrise will break the spell and restore harmony in the family.

Brave is a mix between Pixar story themes and Disney Princess themes and sometimes things get a little lost, solid entertainment none the less. The film does make up for the awful Cars 2 and the flowing hair of Merida is amazing.

Two footnotes: There was a terrific Pixar short subject called La Luna, it was clever and beautifully animated. There was also a trailer for Monster University that makes me worry if Pixar is going to dilute their product by adding so-so sequels to their cannon.