In 1993, Steven Spielberg had one of the greatest years of any director in the history of film. That summer he released one of the greatest summer blockbusters ever in Jurassic Park and that winter he swept the Oscars and turned in probably his best film with the Holocaust drama Schindler’s List. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Schindler’s List (1993) “The Girl in Red”
Through 17 films, I would only count one MCU film as a disappointment (though some are certainly better than others) and that’s Iron Man 3. The only thing that has kept me from loathing the film more than I do was the Marvel One-Shot (I really miss those) that they did “All Hail the King” in which they fixed the film’s biggest blunder: making The Mandarin, Iron Man’s only good villain, into a complete joke.
Aside from The Mandarin debacle, Iron Man 3’s main problem is that it butchers Warren Ellis’ classic Extremis storyline, doesn’t do anything to advance Tony’s character other than blow up all his stuff, which he starts rebuilding before the credits finish, and the film generally stands outside of the MCU’s storyline. That’s fine for a lot of films, but Iron Man has been the backbone of the MCU since he started it, and to waste his last solo film was unforgivable.
There are two things about IM3 that are good enough that the film ekes out a positive rating (post-All Hail the King): Tony & Harley and the plane rescue sequence. I honestly could’ve done with a whole film of just Tony and that kid hanging out in Tennessee, but the film’s best sequence is a mid-air rescue of 13 free falling passengers after Air Force One is compromised. It’s an amazing F/X sequence, a great use of JARVIS, and some very creative problem solving by Tony. Would that the rest of the film had lived up to it.
In a few days the final season of House of Cards will debut on Netflix. That show’s debut in 2013 transformed Netflix from primarily a disc-based rental service, to a streaming based provider of original content on par with premium cable channels like HBO. Netflix is moving even more toward original content, having gone hundreds of millions of dollars into the red, betting that by bagging big names, they can succeed in developing original films to rival the award-winning television series they consistently produce. War Machine, adapted from the best-selling non-fiction book The Operators, starring Brad Pitt, is the first “blockbuster” film of this new initiative. While House of Cards became something of a national phenomenon, War Machine will be forgotten in a few weeks. It’s an inauspicious beginning that primarily fails because the film is stunningly dull. Continue reading Movie Review: War Machine (2017) *Netflix Underwhelms at the Movies*
Walt Disney Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray director Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book (2016), featuring the voices of Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, and Bill Murray. The release will be available for purchase on August 30.
Please note that the 3D version of The Jungle Book will be available later this year.
Synopsis: Synopsis: Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.
The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world.
- “The Jungle Book” Reimagined – Favreau sits down with producer Brigham Taylor and visual effects supervisor Robert Legato to discuss “The Jungle Book” and reflect on the years they devoted to the reimagining of this timeless tale. Discover how Rudyard Kipling’s original stories and the classic animated film influenced their unique approach, witness the technical wizardry that enabled the team to create a believable and thrilling movie-going experience, and learn how they borrowed a page from Walt Disney’s innovation playbook to make it all happen. Lastly, meet the all-star voice cast who help bring the film’s colorful characters to life, as well as the musicians who accent the adventure with a majestic music score.
- I Am Mowgli – Follow the extraordinary journey of 12-year-old Neel Sethi, who was selected from thousands of hopefuls worldwide to play Mowgli “alongside” some of today’s biggest movie stars. Get a glimpse of Neel’s life before Hollywood came calling, check out his audition that sealed the deal, and see how a close-working relationship with Favreau brought out his best. Plus, Neel shares how filming “The Jungle Book” was one wild ride, from working alongside imaginary animals to performing some super-fun stunts.
- King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer – So, exactly how do you create a musical number featuring one man-cub, a massive, legendary ape and an army of wild and wily monkeys in the Seeonee jungle? Viewers are granted rare and unique access to the development of the “I Wan’na Be Like You” sequence in which King Louie attempts to coerce Mowgli into giving up Man’s deadly “red flower” (fire). A fast-moving musical progression reel showcases storyboards, animatics, Christopher Walken’s recording session and visual effects layers, which ultimately merge to form one of the film’s most memorable scenes.
- Audio Commentary – Favreau delivers his scene-by-scene perspective on the live-action adventure “The Jungle Book” with all the candor and humor you’d expect from this multi-talented actor-writer-director-producer.
“Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky, And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back; For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”
Disney has been remaking their classic animated features into live-action films for a while now, and I haven’t really been impressed at the effort. There seemed no need for them. It simply looked like a money grab. Disney’s The Jungle Book is a film that needed to be made, because it couldn’t have been made before now. It’s not often, in the age of FX we live in, that I can say I’ve never seen anything like this, but bringing an entire jungle of completely CGI photorealistic animals who speak, and never having it look fake is astounding. The entire film is. Jon Favreau has combined a strong script leaning much more on Kipling’s books, but giving homage to the 1967 animated film, with groundbreaking effects and one of the best performances I’ve ever seen given by a child to make his best film yet by far. I can’t find flaw in it. In fact, I would go so far to say that this surpasses Kipling (whose prose I never really enjoyed) as the definitive version of The Jungle Book story. Quite simply, it’s a masterpiece. Continue reading Movie Review: Disney’s The Jungle Book (2016) *Disney Brings the Wonder to the Jungle*