Welcome to the Jungle
Film: The Jungle Book, Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Directed by: Jon Favreau, Duration: 1 hr 45 mins, Rating: * * * *
It is hard to believe that this Disney venture was executed in a computer graphics studio, which effectively means, just an ordinary building. It looks so real and so stunning; it is amazing what they can do with computers these days. But what makes The Jungle Book an extraordinary film is not just the breath taking sights; it is a combination of several factors that come together in the making of this remarkable adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale.
The credit goes to director Jon Favreau who is at the helm of affairs. Favreau, has previously made Iron Man I and II which were the best of the series. The actor-director sounded like an unlikely candidate to tell what is primarily known to be a children’s story. But imagine Mowgli’s tale with the zest, pace and enthusiasm of Ironman – that’s what Favreau has brought to the table.
It is almost as if the screenplay writer Justin Marks thought: what and how can we do something different in telling this story. To start with, they have expanded the brief of the characters. Shere Khan is not just a symbolic villain of the story, he looks, feels and talks like someone that nobody wants to mess around with. There is an edginess to the whole story which elevates it a few notches above from what we know it to be.
For a change, the censor board is dead right in issuing it a U/A certificate – kids will feel more comfortable with their guardians around them when the animals jump out of the screen.
Right from the first scene you are hooked. Mowgli (an impressive Neel Sethi) is running away from something that is chasing him. We don’t see what it is till the scene is built up perfectly. Some frantically paced editing also helps.
Mowgli as we know grew up with the wolves – Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) raised him as her own, the Black Panther Bagheera (Ben Kinsley) who found him as a baby, still keeps an eye on him. The chilling Shere Khan (Idris Alba) doesn’t want him around so it is decided that Mowgli should be sent where he belongs – with the rest of mankind. En route, he meets the honey loving bear Baloo (Bill Murray), has an encounter with King Louie (Christopher Walken) who is a gigantopithecus instead of an orangutan. Eventually there is a showdown with Shere Khan In a climax that is totally worthy of it.
But not before Baloo and Mowgli sing Bare Necessities. The popular song from the 1967 version of the film is used with great charm. The manner in which the song is inserted tells a lot about the film. The idea is to keep the essence of the story intact with the emotions and all and add more value to it. And boy, have they succeeded in doing that.
Some of those shots are breathtaking – Favreau seems to know exactly when to stun the audience with the sights (like the waterfall, all CGI) and when to get on with the story. The pace slows down just a bit when Mowgli and Baloo begin their adventures but changes gears smoothly as the climax approaches.
There is also the message about the environment – fire which causes all the destruction in jungles is referred to as the ‘red flower’, something associated with mankind.
Kaa, the slithering snake has a female voice this time, that of Scarlett Johansson. She has a handful of lines but it is impactful. The Jungle Book also uses 3D to good effect. In fact, The Jungle Book is one of those rare films that makes excellent use of technology and tugs the heart strings.
Film: Love Games, Cast: Patralekha, Gaurav Arora, Tara Alisha Berry, Directed by: Vikram Bhatt, Duration: 1 hr 44 mins, Rating: *
Not that I was expecting anything different but Love Games is bottom of the barrel stuff even by director Vikram Bhatt’s lowly standards.
“Roses are red, violets are blue / Sex can be dangerous, but love can be too” – when this line is uttered twice in the first couple of minutes of the film, you know you are in for some serious nerve grating. But as it turns out, that is the cleverest line of the film, the rest of it is strictly for the birds.
The hero Sam (Gaurav Arora) who has a tendency to slash his wrists every now and then goes to a shrink who wears a considerably short skirt and says “self harm bahut dangerous hota hain.” I would have never guessed. “I feel like a zombie” he says. “Try and explain this more to me” says the shrink, in the hope that she can bill him accordingly.
Before that we are introduced to femme fatale Ramona Raichand (Patralekha), who has just turned a widow after her husband’s body came down from a considerably tall building. Sam is her toy-boy but they want more sparks in their relationship hence they decide to play love games.
They hit on a couple – she has to seduce the man while he will sleep with the wife. Whoever gets the first, wins a week’s supply of coke, not the drinking one. By now, you are ready to chew the foam seats in frustration but there is more to come.
Sam meets Alisha (Tara Alisha Berry) who is a doctor constantly thrashed by her abusive husband. Sam falls in love with her making Ms. Femme Fatale very jealous.
In terms of sleaze, the content has gone up – there is constant use of the f-word and we are even subjected to threesome when all you want is to be left alone. This is an embarrassingly bad soft core unintentional comedy. “Roses are red, violets are blue / I turned into a zombie after watching it, so will you”