TL;DR This Week In Cinema: The Jungle Book Is Back, And Other Tales From History And Myth
Welcome to Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. Frankly, given the horrendously massive turnout to the horrendously horrendous Batman v Superman, it's about time we broadened the horizons and looked for something brighter.
Still, there's good news. Firstly, BvS plummeted shortly after release, which gives us small hope. Secondly, there are always new movies! (Except for last week, when there weren't.)
Maybe "new" is a strong word, given that our first contestant is...
THE JUNGLE BOOK
We are deep into remake territory this year, and here for its eighth outing (with another already on its way) is everyone's favourite kinda-racist childhood classic, The Jungle Book. The new adaptation opts for CGI and live-action vis-á-vis Life Of Pi, with Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau at the wheel and a head-spinning array of Hollywood heavyweights contributing their voices.
Newcomer Neel Sethi makes for a gangly and endearing Mowgli, and there has never been a better Baloo than Bill Murray's bucolic con-bear. Despite thrilling action sequences, it adds little to the story that we don't already know, and struggles to emulate the vaudevillean wonder of the original's musical numbers. There are few things more disorienting than hearing a cockney Shere Khan, or Christopher Walken singing 'I Wanna Be Like You'.
But this is Disney! You're here for a hero's journey, and only a touch of the jungle's overwhelming and collective murder.
tl;dr Undoubtedly more fun than the Herzog version would be.
THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER'S WAR
I've managed to avoid the vast majority of this decade's gritty fairytale reboots (i.e. everything the Roth touches), so if you're hunting me because of my controversial opinions, you'll need to look elsewhere than the theatres showing Winter's War.
The prequel combines the Brothers Grimm tale and Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen into another cacophony of swordplay and spells, as Charlize Theron's evil Queen Ravenna faces off against her own sister, the ice-wielding Freya (Emily Blunt).
tl;dr A freeze is coming...
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT
The rock star of documentary filmmaking finally returns to the screen with another impassioned plea for a better America. It's the same fight Michael Moore has been fighting for his entire career; this time it takes him across the world in search of answers to his country's deep-set problems.
Sure, Moore has been and always will be a one-sided filmmaker, but he has always been transparent and honest about his agenda. His trademark humanism and sense of humour will likely carry this from being a simple dissection of one culture against others to something of great social value. A film, one hopes, that may actually inspire change in a time of great turmoil.
tl;dr Michael Moore uses the British method of empire-building.
All the way from Iceland, it's roughly what you'd expect from a country that spends most of winter in complete darkness - a black comedy about two surly sheep-farming brothers forced to band together when one of their prize-winning rams is brought low by a fast-spreading infection that threatens to destroy their way of life.
At festivals as prestigious as Cannes, it's been roundly applauded (apparently for a full ten minutes after its premiere) and who could ever pass up a chance to stare at more stunningly beautiful Icelandic scenery?
tl;dr Regional valley... infection quickly spreading among sheep... sounds familiar...
And now, for a brutal dose of reality from, you guessed it, the Koreans! Forever making light and fluffy cinema that in no way leaves us questioning if mankind is rotten at its core. This one comes from director Cho Jung-rae and details the treatment of Korean girls kidnapped and used as 'comfort women' by Japanese soldiers during the occupation in World War II.
75,000 individual donors contributed to the making of this film, which took 14 years to finally reach release, and when it did it topped South Korea's box office. The premiere was attended by women who survived their abuse. This is living history and a landmark achievement.
If you have the stomach for it, this is a story we should all hear, and one we must never forget.
tl;dr Watch it, but then go watch Zootopia so you don't feel like dying.
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
On your way to seeing Zootopia for a third or fourth time - seriously, go and see Zootopia - maybe you could consider this week's non-Hollywood contenders. Each one is sure to stimulate more than just the eyeballs: Rams is a critical darling, Moore always tickles the funnybone, and no-one deserves their story to be heard more than the women who survived the occupation of Korea.
Until next week!