The Jungle Book
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Run time: 106 minutes
The Lowdown: We all know the story of Mowgli, the young Indian boy rescued in the jungle by a black panther named Bagheera and raised by wolves as a man-cub.
As a kid, the original 1967 Disney animated film was one of my favorites with fun, memorable songs like The Bare Necessities.
Nearly half a century later, director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Marks have used the amazing advancements in film technology to literally bring Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale to awe-inspiring, vibrant life.
Boasting some of the best computer-generated effects to date, rivaling even what Steven Spielberg accomplished with “Jurassic Park,” Favreau’s film not only convinces you its animal actors are real but that they are literally speaking as well.
It helps, of course, that Marks’ poignant script attracted the interest of an all-star, A-list roster of voice actors, including Bill Murray as Baloo the bear, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the python and Christopher Walken as King Louie the chimpanzee.
The Jungle Book is a blast from start to finish, and the perfect Disney film for parents to watch with their children. It properly evokes nostalgia for the animated original while updating Kipling’s story with enough action, humor and semi-scary moments to keep kids enthralled.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – No.
Nudity – No.
Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – A mean tiger named Shere Khan.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
Dreadtime Stories (MVD, 105 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Writer-director Jacob Grim’s low-low-budget (estimated at $2,000) anthology Dreadtime Stories has the best of intentions. Invoking the spirit, look and feel of “Tales from the Darkside,” the film actually gets off to a good start in a proper location, a morgue, when a body arrives with a spooky book in its pocket. The newly-hired morgue attendant takes the book and then goes to a house party where revelers one-by-one stumble across it and each read a passage. The interior films represent those passages. The individual stories aren’t the most original, but again, working off a meager budget with a cast of unknowns, Grim deserves credit for doing as much as he’s able to accomplish. Anthology fans with expectations kept in check may want to try this title, but hardcore horror and gore fans should avoid.
Not to be Overlooked:
Lake Nowhere: Limited Edition (BrinkVision, 52 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): The VHS revival is upon us, people, and I’m OK with that.
The wonderfully wacky retro-slasher Lake Nowhere is ridiculously short at 52 minutes, but thankfully co-directors Christopher Phelps and Maxim Van Scoy and writers Ryan Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen Phelps and Rose Sambrato want to provide viewers with a full-on 1980s pre-digital experience.
Well before you ever get to the feature film, Lake Nowhere opens with two fake trailers and a fake beer commercial for Wolf White beer, the libation of choice of the Lake Nowhere characters. One trailer, “When the River Runs Red,” is a lurid, technicolor giallo with hilarious movie trailer narration. The second trailer, “Harvest Man,” about a farmer who begins growing gigantic crops following a chemical spill in his nearby reservoir, deserves to be a feature film. It’s a gloriously goofy mash-up of “The Day of the Triffids” and “The Lonely Death of Jordy Verrill,” spliced with Troma Studios’ “The Toxic Avenger.”
Then comes the main attraction – Lake Nowhere, which imagines a world where Camp Crystal Lake not only housed a masked maniac but also some kind of bizarre aquatic supernatural entity.
The effects are awesome (and awesomely low-budget) with heads being lopped off, faces cleaved, impalements and more. The action is brisk with little regard given to story development or exposition. There’s boobs, lots of sex and even some full-frontal possessed male indestructible zombie action. And there’s a deranged masked killer who also is just as indestructible and who has a bizarre connection to the paranormal properties of the lake.
Lake Nowhere is a hoot. To find out more about the film, or to order your own copy, visit www.welcometolakenowhere.com/.
The Adventures of Paula Peril (MVD, 82 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Based on a comic book series about intrepid newspaper reporter Paula Peril, and a series of short films dating back to 2011, this first full-length feature tries to update the serialized comic strips from the 1940s that featured a similar character, Brenda Starr, who also got her own feature film in 1989 starring Brooke Shields. Paula is like Brenda, but with a 21st-century twist. She’s a kick-butt, resourceful reporter who can hold her own in hand-to-hand combat while exposing corruption and organized crime. It’s silly, but fast-paced, and I know there’s an audience for this particular brand of provocative damsel in distress exploits.
The Strain: Season 2 (Fox, 546 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Can anybody tell me what the hell is going on in The Strain?
The second season of FX’s adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s book series was just loopy and el loco. Everyone just lost their freaking minds. Corey Stoll continued to chew scenery and swill booze as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, careening from one bad decision to another, until finally – FINALLY – his annoying kid Zach (played by replacement actor Max Charles) got taken by the Strigoi. David Bradley’s Professor Van Hel – er, Abraham Setrakian – growled a lot, read a lot, was revealed to be using the Strigoi parasites to keep from aging and finally – FINALLY – got hold of the weapon he needed to kill The Master and properly blew his big chance. Meanwhile, Jonathan Hyde’s wonderfully icky and dirty-old-rich-pervert Eldritch Palmer found true love, lost true love, and continued his mine-is-bigger-than-yours back and forth with Richard Sammel’s Thomas Eichorst.
The Strain is train wreck TV that you can’t stop watching. It is incapable of jumping the shark because it is the freaking shark.
I know Season 3 just started, and I know my DVR is recording it, and I know I will ultimately watch it, but I just wish, want, need this damn show to get better. Please, pretty, pretty please?
Me Before You
Criminal Minds: The Eleventh Season
NCIS: Los Angeles – Season 7
Blunt Talk: The Complete First Season
Chicago Fire: Season Four
Chicago Med – Season One
Grey’s Anatomy: Complete Twelfth Season