Movies reviewed this week: The Jungle Book, Criminal, Mr.Right, Demolition, Theri (The Spark)
Rebooting old popular movies is a gamble. Do it wrong and you alienate the audience who loved the original but if it’s not freshened up enough, you risk losing potential new viewers.
Messing with The Jungle Book, Disney’s classic animation from 1967, might then have seemed a little foolhardy.
But this is one of those rare remakes that actually improves on the original. It retains the charm but, with the latest visual effects, brings Rudyard Kipling’s book to life like never before. You’re transported from your cinema seat right into a living, breathing jungle.
Watching it in 3D on an enormous 20m-wide screen was spectacular.
Director John Favreau, who helmed the hugely successful Iron Man and family favourite Elf, gives us an altogether darker take on the story of an orphaned boy, Mowgli (played by newcomer Neel Sethi), who has been brought up in the jungle by a family of wolves since birth.
Mixing live action with superb CGI technology to create talking animals, we follow Mowgli as he sets off on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, he meets a myriad of animals, all voiced by a quite stellar cast. Bill Murray makes for a fantastic Baloo, the bear who guides his young charge through each peril and gets to sing the best song of the movie, The Bear Necessities.
Other original songs are updated. I loved Christopher Walken’s new version of I Wanna Be Like You, sung by King Louie, the king of the apes.
Scarlett Johansson (Kaa, a slinking python) and Idris Elba (the fearsome tiger Shere Khan) both make for marvellously voiced baddies.
Although the ending has been changed quite drastically – not to give away the plot here – the morality messages and theme that all of us are part of the circle of life remain as strong as ever.
Review by Kate Ginn
Wily old coyote Kevin Costner (yes, he’s still going strong and is still ruggedly handsome, if a little greyer) is the violent and dangerous death row inmate Jericho Stewart. He also has the memories and skills of a dead CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds), implanted into his brain in a mind-altering experience. The film has echoes of last year’s flop Self/less, which starred Ben Kingsley, but is a lot more entertaining. Set aside your incredulity and accept that it’s far-fetched, and just enjoy it for what it is: a decent crime thriller with a great performance from Costner as he sets out to foil an international conspiracy. Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones also star.
In this comedy-romance-action flick, Pitch Perfect’s Anna Kendrick plays a young woman with a disappointing love life who meets the perfect man (Sam Rockwell). Or so she thinks. Her new beau Francis turns out to be a reformed professional hitman who now kills the people who hire him instead of the intended target. When he vows to give up his work for love, things inevitably don’t go as smoothly as planned. With hints of Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance and Pulp Fiction, there’s much to like but it can be a bit too clever for its own good at times.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Davis Mitchell, an investment banker struggling to cope after the death of his wife in a car accident. Help and a sympathetic ear comes in the shape of Karen (Naomi Watts), a customer service rep from a vending machine company, who responds to Davis’s letter of complaint. She is also coping with some emotional turmoil of her own. The two form an unlikely rapport and Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.
Bollywatch: Theri (The Spark)
This Tamil-language action film written and directed by Atlee and produced by Kalaipuli S. Thanu has taken India’s box office by storm and has also done well in the US. Vijay is Joseph Kuruvilla, a baker and doting father who lives a peaceful life in Kerala with his daughter Nivi (Baby Nainika). His secret is that he used to be the deputy police commissioner of Chennai who faked his own death to escape the violent gang who had killed his wife (Samantha Ruth Prabhu). The past is about to catch up with him.