Disney Remakes 7 – The Jungle Book (2016)

Now that I’m starting to get my life back under control, it’s time to continue this series on Disney live-action Remakes. Today’s subject is 2016’s The Jungle Book, the remake for the last movie that Walt Disney produced. He died during the movie’s production. The Jungle Book is generally seen as the best of Disney’s live-action remakes so far, and for good reason. It’s the only one of these remakes that I’ve rewatched for the fun of it, since my Disney movie blogathon back in 2017. I’ve got multiple friends who agree that it’s the only one that actually improved on the original.

The Jungle Book is directed by Jon Favreau (he also directed the first two Iron Man movies). Plans to remake The Jungle Book were announced back in 2013. It’s actually the third live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book Disney has released, with the 1994 film and its 1998 sequel. Those two movies are generally considered much closer to the original series of books than the 1967 animated film, and they do have their fans. I’ve always been at least curious about them, but I’ve never got around to seeing them. Favreau wanted to find a balance between the two very different versions, keeping the spirit of the animated movie, while also adding a stronger sense of realism and peril. He also wanted to stress the importance of nature. In the time of the books, nature was seen as something to overcome, whereas now, it’s seen as something to be protected. It’s said that the movie also takes some cinematic inspiration from Shane (1953), Goodfellas, and Apocalypse Now. Continue reading

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Quick update – June 2020

Sorry that my movie posts this month have been a bit slow. It’s been a weird month. It’s my first month back at work since my company mostly shut down to some viral outbreak going on. Since returning back to work just over a month ago, I’ve found that I spend a bit too much time watching silly YouTube videos, and I’m still working on de-cluttering my spare time.

On top of that, there is some news to share. I’ve been working towards getting one kind of office job or another since I was 14. That’s more than half my life ago now. Everything from that business class I took in grade 9, to the computer programming I studied in college for a year (before deciding it wasn’t for me), to graduating Journalism Print in college. I did volunteer PR work, volunteer website maintenance, and volunteer IT work on top of all that.  Long story short, I’ve applied to a couple office spots at work lately. Two weeks in a row, I had interviews. The one I had last week was successful. So successful in fact, that I was told by someone who would know they chose me the same day of the interview.

My mind is kind of occupied by that for the moment, so my next movie post probably won’t be at least until my first weekend after I start my new position. I also didn’t get much sleep last night, which for me, generally means that I can’t really contain my excitement all that well anymore. I’ve also been mandated to work on Saturday, which gives me one day to do all my weekend chores and food supply runs, in addition to mentally preparing for Monday morning.

As much as I’m getting excited about finally working at a desk, there are a lot of people on my current team that I’ll miss working with. Some I’d even call friends. There’s also the chance that I won’t enjoy a desk job as much as I hope. I’ve been working some sort of physical job since I was 12 (delivering catalogues and flyers). I like the fact that these types of jobs help keep me fit, and I get most of my best fiction ideas when I’m at work. That might not happen so much anymore. I might need to rely on my gym workouts and other exercise time for that instead. That is, when they do finally re-open the gyms around here. In other words, until I start on Monday morning, my mind is going to be a complete mess. An excited mess, but still.

I try to keep my pace of four movie reviews a month or more, but that’s just not happening this June. I haven‘t even found the time to watch my next movie to review yet, so hopefully it’ll be sometime between July 3rd and July 5th.

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Disney remakes 6 – 101 Dalmatians

One Hundred and One Dalmatians was the second last animated movie Walt Disney released before his death in 1966. Between this and The Sword and the Stone, most people tend to agree that this is the better one. It also helped pull the Disney company out of financial troubles after Sleeping Beauty failed to earn money at the box office (it has since earned the company money, but flopped in its initial release). It also happens to be one of the movies that received a live-action remake long before their current trend of seemingly remaking everything. That in itself makes this particular remake refreshing.

101 Dalmatians, released in 1996, carries a very different tone from the original movie. The original movie is a decent adventure story with a bunch of added cuteness with the puppies, and a fantastic villain with Cruella de Vil. The movie takes its tone fairly seriously, and although it’s never too intense for children, it does get kind of tense at times. 1996’s 101 Dalmatians is more of a comedy. In fact some of the comedy is reminiscent of Home Alone. Considering John Hughes is one of the producers behind this movie, it’s easy to understand why. The other major difference is that, unlike the animated original, the dogs don’t talk in this one. Apparently some people were upset by this, but considering how the dogs look when they talk in 2019’s Lady and the Tramp, I’d say it’s a good thing they stayed away from that in the mid-90’s.

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Disney Remakes 5 – Maleficent

On paper, the sound of a Sleeping Beauty remake focusing on the character of Maleficent sounds awesome. Sleeping Beauty released in 1959, and the main villain still remains up there with the greatest villains in Disney history. It’s also a visually competent remake, with fairly good CGI, and it rightfully earned an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design.

But when I first watched this movie about 3 years ago, I hated it. It felt like a betrayal of everything I liked about the original Sleeping Beauty. Its part of the reason I decided to do this blog series on Disney remakes, so I could give it the thrashing it deserved.

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Adventures in Home Ownership – 1 Year Anniversary

It was a year ago today when I moved into my first house. I’ve shared several posts in the past about the experience of buying a house, how it’s affected my maturity, and other things. Instead of repeating any of that, I’ll link to all the previous Adventures in Home Ownership below.

Week 1

Week 2

First Month

First 3 Months

Four Months

Six Months

1-Year Anniversary of Signing the Deal

The last few months have been weird. February had a lot of bad weather, meaning I couldn’t really travel home that often. Most of my closest friends live in my home town, and one in particular lives over an hour away now. At the same time, I don’t really know too many people in my new town outside of work. Being a shy person does have an effect on that, although at least from my perspective, I’ve made a couple of good friends at work.

And then this whole virus situation happened.

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Disney Remakes 4 – Lady and the Tramp

A lot of the recent criticism thrown at the Disney remakes suggests that these live action remakes barely change anything. A lot of them are far too similar to the original movie. The first three remakes I’ve looked at don’t suffer from that problem whatsoever. If anything, Dumbo goes too far with trying to be different. And as much as Cinderella closely follows the original’s story, it adds to a number of the characters and it’s a very stylistically different film. This one on the other hand …

Lady and the Tramp is considered one of the more iconic Disney animated classics. At the time of its release in 1955, it was the highest earning Disney movie since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Although the initial critical reception wasn’t all that warm, it’s now regarded as one of Walt Disney’s best films. When I watched it for the first time back in 2017, I very much enjoyed it, and enjoyed it just as much when I rewatched it a couple of months back.

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Disney Remakes 3 – Alice in Wonderland

Three movies into this Disney remake series and we’re already looking at the second Tim Burton directed movie. Burton can be a brilliant filmmaker, but his strange style can also be detrimental to certain types of films. For example, The Night Before Christmas is widely considered a classic for both Halloween and Christmas, and deservedly so. His Dumbo remake on the other hand … yeah, we talked about that already. His movie about Ed Wood is up there with my favourite dramatic films, and one I would definitely look at if I ever do a biographical film theme month. An Ed Wood theme month would also work for it. His Batman movies are very polarizing, especially Batman Returns. Edward Scissorhands is supposed to be a work of art (haven’t seen it), yet a lot of people strongly disliked his Dark Shadows and Planet of the Apes movies.

His taste for the strange seems to make him the perfect pick for directing the remake of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, which itself is easily the strangest of Disney’s animated movies, by intention. Yet even though this remake earned over $1 billion worldwide in theaters, and also earned over $1.6 billion in home video and merchandise sales, the reception has been mixed across both critics and audiences. It was mixed enough that it clearly affected Alice Through the Looking Glass in 2016, which flopped, even despite being Alan Rickman’s final role. That clearly wouldn’t have happened if audiences liked the first movie more.

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Disney Remakes 2 – Cinderella

I first saw this movie while preparing to write my post about Cinderella about 3 years ago. I’ve written about a lot of movies since. Even though I was never the target audience for any of the Disney Princess movies, I still enjoyed a few of them as a kid. Cinderella was one of them. When Cinderella first released in 1950, Disney was in serious financial trouble. Failure could have meant the company went bankrupt. The movie did so well that it completely wiped out Disney’s debt, allowed Walt Disney to start his own distribution company, and funded several ongoing movie projects.

It’s only fitting that the first of the modern Disney live action remakes happens to be the movie that kick started Disney’s golden age. Well … if you don’t count the Alice in Wonderland movie that released 5 years earlier. Production for this movie began in 2010, yet they didn’t hire director Kenneth Branagh until 2013. Branagh had previously directed Thor, the most accurate film adaptation of Frankenstein to date, a number of Shakespeare adaptations, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. His early career adaptation of Henry V earned him two Oscar nominations, yet so far, Cinderella is his most profitable movie.

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Disney Remakes 1 – Dumbo

Back in 2017, I started looking at movies on this blog when I got the idea to watch through every single Disney Animation Studios movie, in order of release. I wrote about every single one of them, getting through what was then 56 movies in the span of three months. I’ve really been enjoying writing about movies since, and I’ve done some sort of Disney related blogathon every year. So let’s go back to where these movie posts started, by looking at all of the live action Disney remakes.

Instead of looking at these remakes in order of their release, let’s look at them in order of the original’s release. The earliest of the animated movies to have a remake so far is Dumbo, of which the remake released in March last year.

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Classic Masterpieces 4: Ben-Hur (1959)

Of the four movies I looked at this month, this was the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. I had only seen it once before, but I remember it being not only very impressive from a production standpoint – even by today’s standards, but a fairly good and deep movie. Yet it had been long enough that I only remembered the very basic story points. I long since forgot most of the details and character relationships.

Ben-Hur, released in 1959, is very well regarded in the film industry. The critical reception was overwhelmingly positive from the start, with the New York Times calling it “a remarkably intelligent and engrossing human drama.” Los Angeles Times called it “magnificent, inspiring, awesome, enthralling, and all other adjectives you have been reading about it.” Most of the negative reception revolved around its running time. It won 11 Academy Awards, out of its 12 nominations – the first of the three movies to earn that many awards (the other two being Titanic and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Charlton Heston), Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith), Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Special Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Music, and Best Sound Recording. The only award it didn’t win was the Best Adapted Screenplay award, losing to Room at the Top. Most people attributed that loss to a controversy over the writing credit. Otherwise this could have even won all 12 awards. More on that later.

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