Tag Archives: Disney

The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book review

written by Souranath Banerjee

For some, this film will remain as a happy childhood memory and for others, it’s simply a nostalgia! 

My Ratings: 4.1/5.

The incredible story based on the jungles of India comes first hand for the Indian audience as The Jungle Book gets its release in India one week before any other country of the world!

jungle-book-poster4The heroic survival tale of an abandoned “man cub”  Mowgli, a wild kid in an underwear who can easily converse with all the wild animals in the forest!

And why not, since he has been parented by the wolves, Akela (the alpha male wolf-pack leader) and Raksha (the sensitive mother wolf), and then, Mowgli’s best buddies are none other than Bagheera (the protective black panther) and Baloo (the lazy mischievous bear)!

Mowgli’s life is mostly all fun and adventures unless he ends up face to face with Kaa (the hypnotic python) or King Louie (the power hungry orangutan, the King of the apes), but then, there is someone who doesn’t want a man-child in the jungle, the notorious Shere Khan (the one-eyed evil tiger) who desire to eat Mowgli alive!

All our favorite characters leaping straight out from the pages of Rudyard Kipling‘s collective fables (novel), and this time they are not jungle-book-poster7mere cartoons (as our childhood memories made us believe), but they are all dramatically alive and unbelievably realistic in this brilliant CGI drama.

A confession though (most probably a collective confession of all  those who were lucky enough to enjoy their childhood in the 90s); my instant recognition of the ever-popular character Mowgli and his friends neither comes from Kipling’s famous novel nor from the original Disney animated classic masterpiece The Jungle Book (1967).

It’s actually connected with the Japanese Anime television series called ‘Janguru Bukku shonen Môguri’ which was later dubbed in Hindi as ‘The Jungle Book’ and was aired on the one and only Indian channel of the time Doordarshan way back in 1993.

Ah! those lazy Sunday mornings and the unforgettable title song composed by none other than Vishal Bhardwaj and written by Gulzar!

And the impact of that TV series is the sole reason for me to watch the latest Disney Jungle Book film in Hindi!  – probably the first time ever I have intentionally seen a Hindi dubbed version of an English film and it’s totally worth it.

Fortunately this time, it’s not just a stiff translation but the jungle-book-poster6Hindi dialogues has been specially written by Mayur Puri and the Hindi voice-over artists are also the top in their business, Nana Patekar as Shere Khan, Priyanka Chopra as Kaa, Irrfan Khan as Baloo, Om Puri as Bagheera and Shefali Shetty as Raksha.

But keeping aside the nostalgic memories, the film directed by Jon Favreau is in itself a triumph!  

Visually stunning cinematography by Bill Pope and perfectly complimented by John Debney‘s music.

The young debutant actor Neel Sethi has done a great job playing the central character but the most astonishing feat is undoubtedly the computer graphics used to create the hyperrealistic animals and the jungle-book-poster8locations, the exceptional quality achieved by the combined effort of the studios Weta Digital, MPC and Digital Domain.

The film although it narrates the same old story but overall it’s a much darker version of the original tale; some intense violent moments and chilling chase sequences that makes the film frightfully dramatic (specially from a kid’s perspective).

Make no mistake this film in India is Certified as ‘U/A’ and for the right reasons too.

But then, the success of yet another version of The Jungle Book only confirms our love for Mowgli, a character so unique and universally acknowledged as Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s Tarzan, and also that the adorable wolf-raised-kid will always have a special place in the hearts of the Indian audience!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A perfect satire on our human world and thankfully, not a single human character in the film!

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

In the history of animated films, most of the protagonists start out as ordinary/funny/good-for-nothing bums but then, along the way comes the moment when they “need to believe in themselves” and zootopia-poster1finally in crisis, they conveniently transform into heroes!

Well, Zootopia is not necessarily an exception but here, the expected hero’s journey is been played from a reverse angle.

Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is a little, cute, ambitious rabbit who is beaming with confidence and zeal from her early childhood, she wants to be the first ever bunny-cop joining the ZPA (Zootopia Police Academy); but then she is constantly being demoralized by her parents, friends, mentors, colleagues – everyone.

After all she is only a tiny rodent in this vast and diverse spectrum of zootopia-poster2anthropomorphic animal-world called the Zootopia.

But Judy is all set to prove everybody wrong, and teaming up with a sly, hustler fox named Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), she is in the quest of solving one of the most puzzling and dangerous conspiracy in town – the case of the 14 missing mammals!

Large animals like Rhinos, Hippos, Polar bears, Lamas, Elephants, Bisons, Giraffes, Wolves and then, the smaller ones like Shrews, Otters, Beavers, Sheep, Deers, and of course the Rabbits and Foxes – an immense variety of animal characters on display, and with their individual characteristics undoubtedly exaggerated into some pretty hilarious gags.

The best example being the sequence with the Sloths, after all they zootopia-poster9are not the fastest animals on the planet!

Directed by Byron Howard,  Rich Moore and Jared Bush this is one of the most witty, thoroughly entertaining satirical adventure that Disney has ever come up with.

Loaded with spoofs of the typical detective noir films and then the over-the-top Godfather stereotype, but more importantly Zootopia pokes fun of our current socio-political scenario to the fullest.

And then, just when you think it’s all fun and games, our heroic little bunny teaches us an important lesson!

‘Life’s a little bit messy. We all make mistakes. No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you.’

zootopia-poster6But the only problem (if you even call it a problem) is that most of the jokes, puns and punch lines from Zootopia are meant for a matured audience, far out of reach from a kid’s appreciation level.

But never the less, I am sure the children will adore the flawless animation of their favorite talking-animals, the brilliantly decorative sets and environments and not to forget the soulful Shakira songs.

Grab a ‘pawpsicle’ along with your 3D glasses and enjoy the show.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com

2016 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

2016 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

written by Souranath Banerjee

On Sunday, February 28th, it’s that time of the year when they give away those awards!

Yes, on this day, the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences will hand over the most prestigious awards of the entertainment world – the Academy Awards or the Oscars.

On the basis of the ‘preferential voting’ system (democratic and unbiased), all the nominees are chosen each year for the various award categories and then they simply wait, hope and pray to win!

This year Chris Rock will be hosting the award ceremony on ABC.

In total 305 feature films are competing for Best Picture nominations. Though the final and official seven/eight nominated ones will be announced on Thursday, January 14th, it’s always fun to guess, predict and anticipate a little before hand.

So let the predictions for the ‘Best Picture’ category begin!

10. Beasts of No Nation (Netflix)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xb9Ty-1frw

beasts-of-no-nation1An African country at war, where violence is routine and murder is the law.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, this is the story of a kid who is forced to join a group of soldiers and take up the gun to fight and kill people.

A raw and deadly film that shows the emotional turmoil of a child soldier. And surely a favorite in the Oscar race.

9. Carol (The Weinstein Company)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4z7Px68ywk

carol-poster1The combination of New York in 1950s and Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and a perfect love story.

Full of emotions and breathtaking visuals, superb music and brilliant acting – the film is a complete package of aw

Directed by Todd Haynes, this one is a favorite of mine as well as the Oscar nominees. 

8. Youth (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T7CM4di_0c

Youth-poster2Michael CaineHarvey KeitelRachel Weisz and director Paolo Sorrentino cooks up one of the best mouthwatering cinema of this year.

(click for the review)

A film that reflects on the youth and relishes the old age with the same intensity. It deals with friendship, love, marriage, lust, professions, emotions and above all emotions. I bet my

7. The Hateful Eight (The Weinstein Company)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnRbXn4-Yis

hateful-eight-posterQuentin Tarantino is back with his 8th film and along with Samuel L. JacksonKurt RussellJennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth among others this one gets as gritty and violent as you can expect it to be.

Powerful performances with awesome visuals and a superbly entertaining story line.

An Oscar favorite because ‘No one comes up here without a damn good reason’. 

6. Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15syDwC000k

brooklyn-poster11950s Brooklyn as the backdrop, the film is about an Irish immigrant’s life, her love story and her past, and the choices she makes.

Directed by John Crowley, and outstanding performance by Saoirse Ronan, this is a film that breadths perfection.

My personal favorite and I wish it all the luck for the tough Oscar chart ahead.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Brothers)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEJnMQG9ev8

mad-max-poster5In the year 1979 Mad Max was established – a drifter, a loner and of course mad as hell. And this is the latest addition to the popular franchise.

(Click for the review)

Powerful, dramatic and full of energy, directed by George Miller, this is undoubtedly the best action flick of 2015 and a leader in the Oscar race for the ‘Best Picture’. 

4. The Revenant (20th Century Fox)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoebZZ8K5N0

revenant-posterDirected by Alejandro González Iñárritu (whose film Birdman won the ‘best director’, ‘best picture’ and ‘best screenplay’ awards last year), has come up with this brilliant tale of an explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio).

A fur trading expedition in the 1820s; inspired by true events this is an epic adventure, a quest for survival and also a sure favorite in this year’s Oscar.

3. The Big Short (Paramount Pictures)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDlYm15ztK4

big-short-posterWhen Christian BaleSteve CarellRyan Gosling and Brad Pitt come together – you know it’s worth it. 

Directed by Adam McKay, this is a biographical account of the time (mid 2000) when there was a financial crisis in the US, and four individuals decided to fight the greedy banks for their lack of foresight.

Looks like a pretty sure thing for the award ceremony. Watch out!

2. Room (A24 Films)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_Ci-pAL4eE

room-posterAdopted from Emma Donoghue‘s famous novel, this is one unique story of a five-year old boy who is told by his loving mother that their 10-by-10 foot ‘room’ is the only world that exists! 

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, a brilliant film that surely is becoming people’s favorite and a likely contestant for the Oscar.

Brilliant performance by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay

  1. Spotlight (Open Road Films)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwdCIpbTN5g

spotlight-poster1Probably the most significant cinema on ‘journalism’ made after the epic All the President’s Men (1976).

Directed by Tom McCarthy, this is one film that is considered certainly as the top favorite in this year’s Oscar game.

With Mark RuffaloMichael KeatonRachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber among others this is one safe film to put your money.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most popular one).

+1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGbxmsDFVnE

star-wars-posterThe recently released ever popular addition to the Star Wars franchise and a sudden favorite for the Oscars.

Directed by J.J. Abrams, this film with it’s immense fan following has the potential to be a game changer in the race for this years ‘Best Picture’ Academy Awards.

By the way, this film has recreated the U.S. box office record beating James Cameron‘s Avatar!

And now the films though not included in my list but are certainly fair competition for the award: Straight Outta ComptonCreedTrumboSon of SaulBlack MassThe Danish GirlLove & MercyTangerineSicarioSteve JobsThe MartianBridge of Spies and Joy.

And finally – A Thank You to the movies of 2015.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

Inside Out (2015)

Inside out review.

My Ratings: 4.5/5.

Animated films have long lost their element of surprise since nowadays people, especially the kids are accustomed to watching cartoons and animated series in the TV or internet in the comfort of their cozy homes.

Inside-Out-Poster2In the recent years, it has become a task even for big-shot Animation companies like Disney, Pixar, Blue Sky and Dreamworks to lure their audience out to the cinema halls with the promise of some unique, out-of-the-world experience.

And that is exactly what the film Inside Out delivers and that too with immense success.

Pixar’s second largest opening weekend ever (Toy Story 3 still holds the number one spot), Inside Out proves itself as not only one of the most commercially successful animated film but also, according to the critics this one is a stroke of genius!

Inside Out character postersFifteenth feature film of Pixar Animation Studio – Inside Out is a take on growing up, more precisely the emotional difficulties one faces while growing up.

It’s about an eleven year old girl Riley and her actions and reactions driven by her emotions at various levels of her conscious and subconscious mind; even her memories (both long term and short term), her dreams and also her imaginations!

Inside Out is a film that dares to play with emotions at a micro level, where each emotion is portrayed as an individual character. One particular emotion ‘Joy’ is actually the protagonist of the film!

Inside-Out-Poster4Pete Docter (also the director of two earlier Pixar films Monsters, Inc. and Up) teamed up with Ronaldo Del Carmen did an excellent job with Inside Out.

The subtle emotional shifts, the hilarious moments and the precise characterizations of the various emotions – simply couldn’t have been better.

Superb voice overs by a variety of talented artists.

Animation quality at it’s best but again that is kind of expected from a Pixar feature.

But the best part of Inside Out is it’s concept – so brilliantly innovative!

Inside-Out-Poster1This 94 min film gives the children their beloved world of funny characters and colorful fantasy but at the same time it offers enough scope for serious thoughts (and admiration) for the grown-ups.

Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger.

With all my emotions in check, i must admit that this particular film is probably the best thing Pixar (under the Disney banner of course) have come up with till date!

Don’t miss Inside Out and also the fantastic Pixar 7 min short film Lava before the main feature begins.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

My Ratings: 3.5/5.

Get ready to welcome a whole new bunch of Superheroes – the Big Hero 6 team, straight from the pages of another Marvel Comic Book series.

Big Hero 6 is the latest Disney feature, surprisingly refreshing with no songs and magical creatures; instead you got Baymax – a blown up over-sized robot who walks funny and talks healthy!

big-hero-6-poster12Hiro Hamada, the young science genius is leading the team, then we have Baymax and the company of four nerdy friends, each one with their own unique super talents (but remember their super-talents are not magical but all based on science).

As we all know, a Hero’s journey is never an easy one.

In this film Hiro Hamada, our hero, so young and talented goes through a severe crisis in his life when he looses his loving elder brother Tadashi.

But then with the help of Baymax (his brother’s invention), and his cool friends he sets out in a dangerous mission to unravel the mysterious masked man who seems to be responsible for his brother’s death.

From the kids point of view the basic story plot is simple enough – there is a bad guy who seems to be doing some bad things and the 6 Big Heroes are going to literally unmask him by the end of the film.

And the kids simply love it.

Unlike other animated films Big Hero 6 doesn’t try too hard to please the over-aged kids (adults) in the theatre (though they seem to enjoy as well). The film’s target audience is specifically the kids and it totally focuses on them.

big-hero-6-posterDirected by Don Hall and Chris Williams Big Hero 6 is undoubtedly the best kid-film of this season. Awesome level of animation and extremely detailed CG work.

I bet by the end of the film Baymax, the super adorable, funny, cute and fluffy robot will surely win your heart.

Big Hero 6, a film that is so different from the general trend of Disney Animated films – the likes of Frozen and Tangled. But as long as the kids enjoy and kick their front seats in excitement, who are we to complain.

My Favorite Animated Short Films (10+1List)

Best Animated Short Films

written by Souranath Banerjee

Animation films have always been a source of pure entertainment for the kids as well as the kid-makers. And the following Animated Short Films are some of the best in the business.

Most of these animated short films are Oscar nominated, some of them even won the award. Unique concepts and the way they are executed, if you are a true film lover i am sure you won’t be able to resist them.

So let the fun begin.

10. Get a Horse! (2013)

Directed by Lauren MacMullan and produced by Disney this short film is a perfect blend of black and white hand drawn animation and the latest 3D technology.

Mickey Mouse trying to save his beloved Minnie Mouse, this 3D animated short will remind you of all the incredible 1920s original Disney characters.

9. Oktapodi (2007)

You can go to any length to be with your loved ones and that’s exactly what this film is all about.

A French animated short directed by Julien Bocabeille,  François-Xavier ChaniouxOlivier DelabarreThierry MarchandQuentin Marmier and Emud Mokhberi that won numerous awards, was nominated for the Oscars and most importantly awesome fun to watch.

8. Balance (1989)

A German animated film directed by  Christoph Lauenstein and  Wolfgang Lauenstein that won the Oscars!

This short film is a reflection of our society, of course in a critical way. Simple yet a matured, many hidden message to ponder upon.

7. Duet (2014)

Latest animated short film by master animator Glen Keane.

A magical visualization and interpretation of Love through a dance of duet, all hand-drawn and classy and beautiful. Must watch!

6. Day & Night (2010)

Pixar animated short film that brilliantly combines both 2D and 3D forms of animation.
Directed by Teddy Newton, a concept so unique and fresh, it’s simply awesome!

5. Pluto’s Judgement Day (1935)

Directed by David Hand, a classic Disney short starring Mickey‘s pet Pluto in the main lead.

As all other kids I personally liked the MIckey Mouse series (still adore them) but this particular animated short changed it’s meaning as I grew up. The concept looks dangerously similar to our new age socio-political scenario, a film way ahead of its time!

4. Paperman (2012)

A Walt Disney Productions that won the Oscar and probably the most popular animated short film of recent times.

Directed by  John Kahrs, this one will make you fall in love!

3. The Old Man and the Sea (1999)

The first ever animated film to be released in IMAX, it is the animated version of the classic tale based on Ernest Hemingway’s novel by the same name.

A paint-on-glass-animated short film directed by Aleksandr Petrov over a period of two and half years. A masterpiece.

2. Geri’s Game (1997)

A simple yet amazing animated film made by Pixar that won the Oscar!

Written and directed by Jan Pinkava, storytelling at its best.

1. Father and Daughter (2000)

Oscar winner Dutch Animated short film holds the number one spot in my list.

Written and directed by Michael Dudok de Wit, probably the most emotional tale ever told and the magical background score completes the experience.

(The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most crazy one. A must watch).

+1. Alma (2009)

A Spanish animated short film by writer/director Rodrigo Blaas that has a very different kind of effect on it’s audience.

Alma in Spanish means ‘soul’ and this film believe it or not, has the ability to capture your sole. Spooky yet brilliant!

Similar Interest: Best Animated Films of 2015

Similar Interest: Best Animated Films of 2016

Similar Interest: Best Adult Animation films ever made