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Posts Tagged ‘disneyremake’

poster_petedragonYet another trend from Disney which tends to fall flat with each attempt. However, this one wasn’t as bad as I had expected. In fact that’s the best I could say about it; albeit insanely unoriginal in plot, this live action retell of Pete’s Dragon didn’t entirely suck.

Pete’a Dragon is about a toddler named Pete who’s parents and he suffered a terrible car wreck in the woods of Millhaven, Ore. As the toddler survived, but the parents did not, a legendary docile dragon which the boy names Elliot takes him into its care for the next six years until a logging company and a Forrest ranger discover the boy has been living in the wild all this time. Soon, they learn his dragon exists and a hunter party ensues to capture the magical beast while those who respect the creature look to keep it free and hidden.

Here’s what I appreciated about the film. Elliot never spoke. I was so afraid that character was going to receive the A-typical Disney date rape by having this computer generated character speak English and take that much more reality away from a plot already based in fantasy. However, someone made the decision not to and it worked much better for the integrity of the film, I felt.

I also loved the cast. Bryce Dallas Howard (Lady In the Water) as Grace the forest ranger completely sold her part. She committed and within a Disney fantasy I didn’t expect that from anyone in the film. It was a pleasant surprise and increased my respect for her as an actor.

Frankly, this live action remake of a Disney classic will probably disappoint the die hard fans of the original, I think. I wasn’t one. It’s cute, but I feel this storyline is better in the for of the Steven Spielberg directed classic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

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This is a first for me. In the same day, I watched a Disney animated classic that morning and that afternoon watched Disney’s live action remake of the same title. So this is the first time I’m writing up a tandem review of both versions. Now let me be perfectly clear. I have no emotional attachment to the 1967 version from seeing it re-released to cinemas when I was a kid. The are some Disney animated classics which I DO have a heavy emotional attachment to like The Fox and the Hound (1981), The Rescuers (1977) and The Aristocats (1970), but this movie wasn’t one of them.

For this tandem installment? Disney’s The Jungle Book; both the 1967 and the 2016 versions. The reason I wanted to clarify how unattached I was to the original was because of how terribly disappointing the newer live action take was for me.

The Jungle Book, both based on the classic work of literature from Rudyard Kipling, tells the story of Mowgli, a human boy separated from other humans and was found by a jungle Panther named Bagheera who turned him over to the protection of the local wolf pack. Eventually, the regional bully Shere Kahn the Tiger discovers a “man cub” living among the animals of the jungle and follows jungle law stating human among them are simply forbidden at any age. Kahn then is obsessive in hunting down and killing the boy.

The wolf pack kick Mowgli out and Bagheera attempts to help him find a new pack who can help protect him. Along the way, Mowgli runs into the loveable Baloo, a crafty bear, Kaa, an anaconda with false intentions and King Louis of the Apes, who intentions of his own.

Undeniably, whatever age your are, the best aspect of the 1967 animated take on The Jungle Book is the songs. The animation is fine for being pre-1970. It isn’t so bad it distracts from the great qualities of the production as a whole like Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The songs however are time tested. So many adults know musical numbers like The Bear Necessities, Trust in Me and my personal favorite I Wanna Be Like You, which was later given a swing spin by the and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy which I blast in the car when it comes up on my iPod shuffle.

The songs are ridiculously catchy and the choreography of the animated characters truly heighten those scenes in the original.

The live action version of The Jungle Book presented two of these original songs with new versions. Bear Necessities was so contrived with Mowgli riding Baloo down a river. New lyrics were added, but up until that point in the movie, no character broke into song. So when it happened in that scene, it was completely out of place. The same goes for I Wanna Be Like You, the other revival of one of the older numbers. The only thing amusing about this version was it was sung by Christopher Walken (Click). However, again, even with change of lyrics to suit the new adaptation, the presence of the song was absolutely useless and out of place.

If you want to be a musical, be a musical. If you aren’t, don’t put a musical number in your stupid movie. There’s no middle ground on this. Be or be not; there is no try, as Yoda once stated.

The other part of the 1967 movie I appreciated was the exasperation of Mowgli. By the time Mowgli met the barbershop singing vultures, you could really feel this little animated boy’s distrust and utter exhaustion with the animals of the jungle had reached its pinnacle. Not that he ever said it, but by the time the man cub had his big fight with Shere Khan for the movie’s climax, he almost had this “I just don’t give a fuck anymore so bring it”-vibe about him. I’m not sure if it was the vocal performance of Bruce Reitherman or the animation itself, but that aspect of the conflicts of the Mowgli character were done very well.

In the live action version, Mowgli’s inner conflicts were no where present. In fact, I had issues with Mowgli the entire time. One, a toddler raised by wolves would have SOME sort of survival instincts rather than just RUN. However, I did enjoy the additional material of Mowgli catching shit from Bagheera for figuring out ways of making life easier for himself and others by human instinctual crafting and engineering. That felt reasonable.

Two, in the 2016 version, Mowgli seemed completely unaffected by the fact Shere Kahn was the one who ruined his life as a human but when ape shit over his wolf father being killed by the Tiger. This was so much so, once Mowgli learned Kahn killed his wolf father, he stole the Red Flower (aka fire created by the human village) and ran all the way back to the wolf den (which was weird cause it took him the entire movie to get away from there AND it was made clear earlier he was lost, so how would he know how to get back?) while accidentally setting the jungle on fire. Whoops. Maybe the action itself wouldn’t have been confusing, but the dialogue he had in that moment he found out was terrible. “Somebody has to do something!” he screamed. So Mowgli is gonna go kill Shere Kahn himself when he hadn’t killed a thing in his life and barely had any survival skills? Right. Okay. There was simply nothing in the material which indicated that action was a choice for Mowgli’s character. The writing was a fault in this entire movie.

Another instance of crappy writing for the new version, Shere Kahn as a character was presented intense and effective in backstory and visual effects, but he simply wasn’t menacing entirely. Mowgli is trying to escape him to the human village while being told the Tiger is “hunting” him, but every time we see Shere Kahn, he’s hanging out in the wolf pack’s den. He isn’t hunting SHIT, so why was there a sense of urgency? Maybe for Mowgli, yes, but not the viewer.

I did like the story additions of the Red Flower in general in this 2016 version, and having King Louis kidnap the man cub thinking, being human, he had the ability to create the Red Flower (fire), it would make Louis’ ape kingdom rule the jungle completely. The sequences involving King Louis were the best of the entire movie. It was also the first part of the film which started to scare my kids. The big fight against Shere Kahn for the climax was also a point where my three-under-six cuddled up a little closer because of the intensity. Otherwise, parents, unless you’re raising a total sissy, you’re kid should be fine with seeing this movie in the cinemas.

The visual effects in this latest version were the greatest brag of production. Some of the animals completely looked real and I don’t think a single one was. There were some scenes were you could see the visual effects “seams,” but overall it was very well crafted visually. It’s also a credit to young actor Neel Sethi (big screen debut) as Mowgli who probably shot the entire film on a green-screen stage and all by himself. Don’t get me wrong, Sethi’s performance was terrible; stiff and contrived. However, I have to respect what the production asked of him.

The 2016 remake was a serious disappointment overall. We all know movie trailers are designed to make the movie look far better than it actually is. That’s what ultimately brings people out to see it. But I hate, hate, HATE it when a movie trailer completely makes a movie look like one genre and it turns out to be another. I was sold and excited on THIS Jungle Book being some large-scope action/adventure film. Instead, it was this light-hearted dramedy which was even boring in some spots. I felt cheated.

Overall, to be completely honest, the Disney’s 1967 version of The Jungle Book was a more complete picture. The plot was better. The characters were better developed over the course of the film. That version also knew its place. It’s an animated musical. Period. The 2016 live-action production was a sham, boring and had some nice tries to update things but failed terribly.

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