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Movies Review

Movie Review – The Jungle Book

Live-action versions of their classic animated features is a thing for Disney right now, and the next one is The Jungle Book.  Yeah, I know it’s technically adapted from the Kipling book but make no mistake the classic animated version is the inspiration here.  Thankfully, it’s a really good adaptation.

The first thing that stands out are the visuals.  It was super important for the animal characters to fit in seamlessly with Neel Sethi’s Mowgli, and the 3D animators did a fantastic job.  I never once thought of the animal characters as not being real and present in the scenes.  It’s honestly pretty amazing, movies have tried to get talking animals to work for years, and it really does here.  The 3D was well done, too, this may be one of the few movies where 3D is worth the extra couple of bucks.

Speaking of Neel Sethi, he did a great job as Mowgli for the most part.  There was a time or two where he seemed to be doing the ‘standing and talking to nothing’ thing that happens with kid actors but considering he had NO other humans to talk to I can’t blame him.  He nailed the emotional parts, which is the main thing.

Idris Elba’s Shere Khan is genuinely terrifying (younger or sensitive children WILL be scared at a couple of places), and the rest of the voice cast are excellent.  Bill Murray (Baloo) and Christopher Walken (King Louie) even manage to pull off their songs, though I’d agree with critics who feel they are a bit out of place in this version.  But hey, they’re fun so I let it slide.  Lupita Nyong’o and Ben Kingsley deserve praise as well.

I heartily recommend The Jungle Book for any family looking for a movie to share.  My girls spent the ride home quoting lines back and forth (they love the “Bears don’t hibernate in a jungle!” exchange in the trailers) and even my son cracked a smile while being too cool to hang with us.

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Movies

Kid Movie Reviews – Hugo

I KNEW this would happen.  I bought a copy of Hugo the other day, and we watched it.  My son (the stick-in-the-mud who wouldn’t go see it with me in the theater) loved it.  I love it.  The visuals are amazing, the story wonderful, and the casting perfect.  I can’t wait to see Asa Butterfield and Ben Kingsley team back up for Ender’s Game.  I hope more of our great filmmakers get the itch to try a big-budget adaptation more often.

I won’t bore you by going over the details of the plot – considering the buzz it generated, you probably figured out the gist.  I would note that a sensitive younger child might be scared at a few different moments, especially if they have a tendency to invest themselves deeply in the movies they watch.  I still remember how upset Thomas was when Nemo got separated from Marlin in Finding Nemo.  There are a few action sequences but not enough to keep the attention of a more fidgety kid, also, but Thomas and Mattie paid very close attention.

If you were on the fence about seeing it, definitely do so.  It’s been one that my son has asked to see again and again, which is one way I judge just how good a movie is for kids.  For my part, it’s a film I can see myself being okay watching again and again.  Highly recommended.

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Featured Movies Sci/Tech Software

Friday Finds – LOTR and Star Wars

Hey, it’s been a while.  Vacations, children, car shopping, attending Sabres games in the press box, all take a toll on my time.  Onto the posts!

Bah, I’ll be impressed when the docking bay is built into a giant Death Star model.

100 facts about the Lord of the Rings movies, many of which you might know if you watched the movies with the DVD commentary on.  Neat for those of us who haven’t.

I just love glaciers, and science.

The Math that Saved Apollo 13 – this is cool.  I had JUST watched a show about Apollo 13 where you saw Lovell with this very manual.

Mimicking nature, always a solid option when you have a technical challenge like this.  These ‘kelp forest’ underwater power generators could possibly be adapter to work almost anywhere.

Really does sort of resemble the Silver Surfer.  It’s a comet, though.

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Featured Movies

Ender’s Game News – Ben Kingsley and Hollywood Whitewashing

Some notes:  This post has some plot details of Ender’s Game: The Book, so if you haven’t read it (and WHY NOT) read the rest of this at your own risk.

I hesitate to even write this, as Orson Scott Card’s books were a pretty fundamental part of my childhood, after I read my brother’s copy of Ender’s Game.  We Card fans have been looking forward to a movie based on the book for well over 15 years.  It’s never gotten far as Card wants to be sure the movie gets done right. Well, after many false starts, it finally looks like it’s happening.  People are getting cast (Slashfilm has the details on Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, and Hailee Steinfeld), there are writers and directors, the whole nine yards.  Sounds like a dream come true for a Card fan, and for Card himself.  I was on Facebook the other day when the news about Kingsley broke, and saw a fan ask Card what he thought.  What she got in return was a bit of a rant by Card about Hollywood and casting an actor who plays ‘white’ roles in a role he had pegged for a dark-skinned actor (Mazer Rackham, in the book, is a half-Maori New Zealander), disliking the Hollywood-ism that since he looks ‘ethnic’, it would work.  I attempted to comment but the thread was deleted (I didn’t screenshot it).  I then posted this on Card’s wall:

I know you wouldn’t want to be associated with Hollywood style whitewashing, but I can’t be mad at a role in Ender’s Game going to Ben Kingsley (if true). He’s a well-known name that can help get this movie in front of casual moviegoers. To me, the most important place to keep the diversity is with the Battle School kids.

That too was deleted quickly, and I didn’t press the issue.  In the book, Mazer’s heritage, in my opinion, is not as big a deal as Alai’s (a fellow student at Battle School who is Muslim) and the other kids.  I have friends who would disagree, but that’s how I se it.  With the adjustments you have to make to shorten a novel into a movie, I can see that bit of characterization for Mazer being ignored completely.  It’s referenced once, as a foil to the Jewish military leaders he out-thought in the second Bugger invasion, and wasn’t mentioned again.

I can understand that Ender’s Game is probably very close to Card’s heart.  Ender was based partially on his son Geoffrey, and the book still stands as one of his finest works.  I reread Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead all the time, and they hold up well.  That it is happening now is probably a testament to him finally letting go a bit, and wanting to see the movie done while people still want to see it.  Helps that the tech is finally there to do the battle room and command school justice.

Uncle Orson, I hope you can come to grips with whatever casting and story decisions are made, and judge the movie based on it’s merits.  The movie will be it’s own thing.  I’d hate to see bitterness in the decisions made cloud the joy of seeing something you created on the big screen.  Your book will always exist and be the first one picked up from my shelf when I want to read something good.  Let the process play out, see the result, and judge.  And like the friends I mentioned, I hope you got a dump truck full of cash in return for the stress this is causing.