The Jungle Book, 2016 is Fun Action/Adventure for the Whole Family

by Kailee Maeda

The_Jungle_Book_(2016)One of the most highly anticipated films of the year was none other than Disney’s The Jungle Book.  Directed by the very well known, Jon Favreau (Swingers, Iron Man), The Jungle Book takes the audience along side the man cub, Mowgli, as he ventures through the jungle attempting to find safety.  With a cast filled with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, the audience is granted a unique experience as each actor comes to life on screen through the computer generated characters.  This film, based on Rudyard Kipling’s story and Disney’s classic animated version, is a thrilling live-action adventure that includes amazing technological advances, creating a truly remarkable visual experience.

102727_030The Jungle Book sticks fairly close to the original plot, although, it includes a much darker feel compared to the animated version.  There are lives lost, and much more realistically violent battle scenes.  However, these are balanced with the familiarity of the original musical compositions.  During the film the audience follows the adventures of Mowgli, a man cub who has been raised by a family of wolves.  However, when a dangerous and powerful tiger known as, Shere Khan, begins to see him as a threat, Mowgli must find sanctuary elsewhere.  The cast for this film is very impressive.  It includes GOlden Globe winner Idris Elba as the voice of Shere Khan, Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley as the voice of Bagheera, comedian Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo, screen beauty Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Kaa, cult icon Christopher Walken as the voice of King Louie, Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of Raksha, and character actor Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of Akela.  

3056512-poster-p-1-want-to-vacation-like-mowgli-in-jungle-book-airbnb-has-treehouses-at-the-readyThe only actor that is human on screen is newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli the man cub; the rest are represented through photorealistic computer generated animals.  The visual aspects of this film are absolutely jaw dropping; I felt as if I was submerged into the jungle right beside Mowgli.  The vibrant colors of the scenery, as well as the photorealistic computer generated animals truly give the audience a one of a kind movie going experience.  I was also amazed to discover that the entire film was shot on a set, rather than on location.  The blend of the photorealism of the CGI technology with the action in this film is so perfect that the audience is misguided into thinking the setting is an actual jungle.  The Jungle Book combines advanced cinema technology and storytelling with live-action adventure, creating a truly amazing film.

TJB-Footage-6This film was most definitely a cinematic success in my eyes.  Perhaps, most of this is due to the expensive technology that was used to create the extravagant visuals. Nonetheless, this revamped version of Rudyard Kipling’s, The Jungle Book, is one of the many true successes of Disney.  A 3D version of this film was offered as well, however, I decided to watch the normal version because as a rule I do not like 3D films.  It was absolutely captivating.  I found myself whisked back to my childhood.  Hearing the original songs played through the amazing theatre speakers only helped to enhance my experience.  The sound production also had an immense impact on the film’s overall success.  Everything from atmosphere sounds to the roars of the many animals in the jungle were vibrant and full of life.  And the action sequences were made all the more realistic through the careful production of sound effects.  As an audience member I was able to hear every single detail of the fights; sharp claws, snarls, screams, etc.  In one particular scene there is a fire in the jungle, and I swear the crackling of the flames appear to be licking at your ear lobes.  Other sound effects that particularly impressed me were, the sounds of the water in the river, the rain, and the precise difference in footsteps for each character, whether they be paws, hooves, or whatever.  Overall, this film definitely thrived on sound and photorealistic technology.

MV5BMTkyNTUxMDczMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTUzNDA4NjE@._V1_CR39,0,1842,1036_AL_UY268_CR10,0,477,268_AL_If you’re a fan of all things Disney or Rudyard Kipling’s creations, I would strongly recommend seeing this film.  If you’re not particularly a fan of either, but you enjoy action films, I would still highly recommend giving this film a chance.  The Jungle Book is a perfect combination of an action-based adventure, with a true family feel to it.  In my opinion, The Jungle Book is enjoyable for all ages and it’s rated PG.  Overall, there is no question that this film will take its place among Disney’s many classics.

The Grand Budapest Hotel Shines

by Leif Erik Harty

GBH_Title_meteormermaidIn Wes Anderson’s latest cinematic adventure Ralph Fiennes stars as M. Gustave, the concierge of a hotel in the fictional European nation known as the Republic of Zubrowka. Joined by his newfound lobby boy, Zero (played by the relatively unknown Tony Revolori) he seeks to avoid detainment for the “theft” of his rightly inherited property. The movie follows their escapades across fictional alpine Europe in a time period designed to mirror that of World War II. And the effect shines like pure Anderson gold.

Grand-Budapest-Hotel-Actors-Talk-About-Director-Wes-AndersonFor the longest time, I have been wrestling with the issue of my favorite movie. It’s one of those questions that people ask pretty frequently, but I’ve always had trouble answering. The main reason I’ve struggled with it so much is that I thoroughly enjoy so many movies. I decided the best way to finally make a decision was to approach my thinking from two directions, effectively creating two sets of favorites. The first method revolved around how the movie made me feel, while the second method focused on my admiration for the mechanics of the moviemaking process (use of lighting, quality of editing, cinematographer’s preferences, etc.). Then it happened. I sat down to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel for the first time earlier this year and discovered a movie that hit both criteria out of the park. The narrative follows a grandiose and ever-winding path, but tells the majority of its story (like most good movies do) through exceptional visuals. I’ve walked away from each subsequent viewing with a continued sense of this movie’s masterpiece quality.

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Despite its fictional nature, it’s really quite an experience taking the 100-minute vacation to the Republic of Zubrowka. Any good movie will draw you in, but few movies transplant you quite the way Grand Budapest Hotel does. The hotel and all of its guests live a regal lifestyle, even through some very dark moments. In complete honesty, the hotel is a den of pomp and lavish living, but it never feels quite that way. The goal appears not to be to create a feeling of disgust within the viewer, but rather a feeling of fondness, which is exactly what happens. Throughout the ups and downs of the plot, there is always a fanciful touch to everything, which is part of the comedy. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, but a large portion of the amusement comes from the persistent elegance in the face of blatant misfortune. In addition to its comedic value, the atmosphere is also just downright pleasant. However, it isn’t innately well done. The atmosphere is successful because of several technical aspects that work well together.

The Grand Budapest HotelCinematography is the first of these aspects that I’m going to touch upon. There are a few visual qualities that really set The Grand Budapest Hotel apart, the most pervasive being its thematic color. While it’s not necessarily unique for a movie to have a color theme, it is unique for that color to be primarily pink. Within the bulk of the movie, there are shades of pink everywhere. For the brief parts of the movie that take place in the late 60s and mid-80s, the thematic color is orange. Both colors are rather unusual, but they do a great job of constantly reminding the audience where things are in the overall timeline. The pink adds to the flowery feel of the hotel’s heyday, while the orange adds to the dull feel of the hotel’s declining years. The system works very well, but never makes itself overly present.

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL_426.jpgThere is also another visual achievement that succeeds by making its presence known. Films need establishing shots. They really do. It can be very disorienting to the audience if the narrative lacks any visual encompassment. I admire the way that Wes Anderson’s team decided to tackle such a standard element. There are a good number of typical wide shots, showcasing the outside of a building or something along those lines. However, there are also many wide shots composed in such a way that they take on a Charlie Chaplin-era feel. They’re actually rather hard to describe, but the most accurate description is that they make the scenery look like high quality backdrops. These shots, combined with slides separating acts and the occasional vignette, ingrain a golden-age-of-cinema feel within the movie. Visuals aren’t everything, though. The Grand Budapest Hotel would fall flat on its face without the aid of some excellent dialogue.

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Keeping in line with the elegant feel of the hotel itself, much of the movie’s language is quite fanciful. The narrative is full of metaphors and figures of speech too flowery for the average Joe to come up with, but it never becomes stuffy. In fact, things progress quite differently. In the same way that the film creates comedy by contrasting pomp with turbulent situations, it also contrasts the linguistically proper with the linguistically crass. The elegant language of the upper class is often broken up by a cruder, but equally colorful, way of speaking. Part of the movie’s R rating can be attributed to its crude language, but it isn’t overdone. It’s present just enough to create a very nice contrast and provide some variety, which is something this film has in abundance, especially in the casting department.

budapesthtelCatPeople don’t pay enough attention to casting. I have to admit that I fall into that group. Fortunately, this movie woke me up. The array of actors is pretty unique and it creates an interesting setup. For one, the list of notable actors is pretty lengthy. Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, to name just a few. The thing that particularly sets The Grand Budapest Hotel apart in the realm of casting is that many of the big-name actors receive only a short amount of screen time. At first, it’s a bit strange to see them in minor roles, but ultimately, it’s a nice twist on typical expectations. On the flip side, one of the leading roles is the lobby boy, Zero, played by the no-name Tony Revolori. The genius in having the unknown actor play such a key role is that he brings no baggage with him. The audience gets to experience him in a completely fresh way since he has no past characters for which people to connect him. The freshness of Zero’s character and the celebrity casting contribute to the film’s pleasant, but unique feel. 

In short, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fantastic movie. It tackles many familiar conventions with new thinking, makes great use of contrasting realities to tell a funny story, and pulls the audience into a world with more strength than many films could every dream of. I highly recommend it.

Carrie, Randy and Ruben Are Back Rambling About Movies

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Carrie, Randy and Ruben like to talk about movies whenever and where ever. Sadly, Randy couldn’t be with us so Dick Hollywood is filling in for him for this quick (8 minutes or so) revival of a once grand plan.

We roam from topic to topic pretty quickly, and Carrie is a lot louder than her subdued counter parts (Dick can be such a wallflower, poor thing). We’ll be sure to iron out the technical difficulties for our next submissions, but for now give us a listen and let us know what you think. Is Carrie an insufferable know-it-all? Is Ruben an obstinate jerk? Is Dick Hollywood the coolest guy in town who just knows everything about films on the edgier side? You tell us.