Underlying Message in “The Jungle Book”

Growing up as a young child, I had a select set of movies that I loved to watch. “Toy Story,” “Lion King,” “Hercules,” “Bug’s Life,” and the timeless “The Jungle Book.” When I found out that there was going to be a live action remake of the film, I could hardly contain my joy and anticipation to see this film. I saw the film this weekend and it met all of my expectations; it was beautifully made with seamless incorporation of special effects and live-action acting. The voice cast is abundantly brilliant: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, and Idris Elba- who just might have the most immaculate voice to ever come from the British Isles. The sounds, the sights, and the excitement were all there, and “The Jungle Book” has become one of my favorite films of 2016 so far.

The movie is phenomenal in its ability to bring me back to childhood- that sense of innocence and joy. I fell in love with the marvelous array of characters for the first time and there is so much more to this movie than what is on the surface of the screen. This film is so much more than a remake of a timeless classic, more than just a way to help young adults relive their childhoods, and more than just a showcase of special effects brilliance. This film has an underlying message about what it truly means to be a person and humans are capable of. For those that have not seen the remake yet, the film focuses more on the protagonist, Mowgli, than the adventure and the music that is synonymous with the original. While these two elements play a key role in the movie, watching Mowgli grow as an individual is the most prominent story arc, a stark difference from the animated original. Mowgli has lived his entire life in the jungle trying to fit in. He has ideas, creativity levels, and ingenuity is not found in the jungle and is not expressed by the animal species that he calls his family. Throughout the entirety of the film, Mowgli is told by a majority of the characters that he cannot use the tools and inventions he makes because they simply are not made for animals to use. Man’s inventions led to fire, which is a prominent form of destruction and concern for the animal species living in the jungle. Mowgli is encouraged to suppress his ingenuity in order to fit in better with those around him. In the end, however, it is this inventiveness that becomes the tool that allows him to be the strong protagonist the film needs.

Watching this film reminded me a lot about our current situation. We have the ability to create so many amazing things. We can go to the moon, travel internationally without difficulty, create these brilliant works of architecture, and erect cities that seemingly defy logic. But, we also have the potential to cause massive harm to the world around us. Just as the fire can destroy the jungle in the film, our inventions can and have had drastic impacts on the world. We are reaching a point of desperation in terms of salvaging the health of the natural world because of our ignorance and desire to keep creating more. Despite this fact, this film serves as a timely reminder that while we may be prone to causing harm to the world around us, we have the capability to make things right again. With our creativity, unique sense of innovation, and necessary tools we can right the wrongs that we have caused and create a world in which we live in harmony with the natural species around us. We are special because we have the ability to create so much good in our lives. If Mowgli was able to create a way to save the jungle, we as a people can come together to create a way that will save our planet. This film, on the surface, may be a simple remake of a beloved animated film, but it has so much more to say in the way of showing us our true potential as human beings. And I think we can do right by that message.

Full Review of the movie to come later

Batman V Superman Review

It baffles me that Zack Snyder keeps getting paid to direct these potentially successful movies because he has proved to us time and time again that he simply doesn’t know how to direct a movie. He has no concept of pacing, can’t handle combining tones in any way, and seems to think that you can solve an issue by adding in an over extravagant action sequence or a different villain to the plotline. The only somewhat decent movie he has made is “Watchmen,” which in retrospect was only vaguely interesting due to the brilliance of the source material. “300,” “Sucker Punch,” and “Man of Steel” are all wastes of time for anybody that wants to be entertained by a movie, and “Batman V Superman” is no different. All the things that are wrong with Zack Snyder’s directorial tendencies are present in full force for this overlong, boring, and completely irrelevant superhero spectacle.

The premise of this film revolves around the fallout of two superheroes after the events that transpired in “Man of Steel.” The movie actually does a decent job of posing some strong argumentative questions in regards to Superman in a modern context. Who does he answer to? Is he too powerful to be trusted? What are we to do if he turns against us? All of these questions match the security driven paranoia of modern America that has arisen from the increased threat of terrorism. But the movie only asks these questions; it never bothers to attempt to answer them in anyway throughout the film. A gigantic opportunity missed with that one there. The story even has some interesting elements to it, but it never finishes half of the plotlines it creates and decides in the end to drop all reason for the sake of an action filled finale. Just as in “Man of Steel,” mass destruction in the final half an hour is considered to be a key point of entertainment, but all it does is make the first two hours of this film feel completely pointless. Nothing of any real significance happens for the first two hours and then the last half an hour tries to erase the boredom with excess action that turns out to be more frustrating than invigorating.

No character gets any justice in regards to development, especially Lex Luther. Luther is a character that was played rather well in my opinion by Jessie Eisenberg, but was one that was always there rather than one that was able to develop. Another big opportunity missed. The mood is completely wrong as well. A movie that contains Superman and Batman should be one that is at least somewhat fun and happy, just like Whedon did with “The Avengers.” I want to have fun when I go see a movie containing two of the biggest superheroes of all time, not depressed by the gravity of sullen cloud cast over every shot. Because Snyder is completely incompetent at combining seriousness with light-hearted moments of comic relief, we are given a two and a half hour long film that is filled with nothing but bleak moments that depress and bore the audience to the point where all interest is lost. It’s as if it tried to have the deep, complex emotions that Nolan was able to produce in his Dark Knight trilogy but tried to replicate it to such an extreme that it failed miserably.

There are some decent moments in the film, I will admit. The way they introduced the new characters for the upcoming Justice League film was well done. Again, Eisenberg was entertaining as Lex Luther, I didn’t entirely hate the older and grittier Batman that Affleck was portraying, and I thought this version of Alfred did a strong job of following the great performance from Michael Caine in the Dark Knight trilogy. Still these are trivial up sides for a film that clocks in at two and half hours in length and has so many things wrong with it. Maybe if Snyder learns how to mix various moods and figures out that the answer to solving an issue with the plot isn’t by adding another villain or twist situation, then this movie could have been somewhat enjoyable. The superhero movie genre is on the decline and this utter failure was a massive setback for an industry that is struggling to remain original.

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Batman V Superman (2016): 1/4 stars