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Despite stunning CGI visuals The Jungle Book 2016 movie has a lot to offer, as “Iron Man” director Jon Favreau merges the short stories, which were first published in the 1894 Book. The first animated motion picture by Disney then premiered in 1967 .
Computer Animated Imagery has been progressing so rapidly in the past years that today, where most of the images we see are filtered up, graded and manufactured to an extreme, we now arrived at the point where it’s difficult to see the difference between a rendering and a real-life image.
Having a look at the visuals of The Jungle Book 2016 it comes to a surprise that a note at the ending-credits says: “Filmed in Downtown Los Angeles.” The only non-animated figure ‘Mowgli’ is played by the 10-year old actor Neel Sethi.
They key to the equally thrilling and fun-to-watch theatre experience of the Jungle Book is a mixture between a playful Mowgli who runs, leaps and climbs through the jungle in a way, which lets our Parkour hearts leap higher – and the stunning CGI environment that makes you plan your next barefoot training somewhere outside in the wilderness. The speaking animals appear in a flawless anthropomorphic way underlining the strong animal characters of the majestic tiger Shere Khan, the black panther Bagheera or the charismatic and sleepy brown bear Baloo.
The animal kingdom illustrates for the greatest part a harmonious, self-governed society. One day, during the dry season, all the animals in the jungle gather at the Peace Rock to drink the water that remains, as part of the ‘Water Truce’, abiding by the “Law of the Jungle” to not devour one another.
As time passes in Mowgli’s adventure we get a pretty ‘real’ sense for what’s just and what self-righteous.
While the story is obviously not too complex, Bill Murray as Baloo helps to keep the balance between profundity and ease – not sure wether they’ve designed the brown bear to look like Bill Murray or if Bill Murray in his even-tempered manner is simply the perfect fit for Baloo. This movie sure has its fun moments.
If you are a die-hard fan of the 1967 Jungle Book you may have to open up a bit, try not to make too many comparisons or demand the story to be told in the exact same way – but if you’re looking for an entertaining experience with majestic cinematic pictures, an affectionate storyline and the sensation of “Yey! Hollywood is getting it! Parkour movements in movies just make any kind of chase sequence that much more interesting,” then this 105 minute long motion picture might be a fun experience for you.
Parkour in the Jungle Book 2016
Picture a boy who grew up in the jungle, being raised by wolves and having a black panther as a father figure.
He is still a boy though and the movie is made for a younger audience. Rather than seeing a small superhero-version of Tarzan, we can see a content and playful kid who adapted to growing up in a potentially dangerous environment.
The motion picture lets us imagine how unafraid and aware kids could behave, if climbing scaffoldings was part of the daily physical education classes – and if less parents were ruled by their own fears, projecting them onto their kids.
So we’re not seeing perfectly executed Parkour techniques like we’re used from Team Jestion’s Gian Marco Oddo.
But watching Mowgli find his way through the jungle environment made me want to move so much more than watching Superman fly through downtown New York.
In that sense the Jungle Book might have fulfilled another unspoken about duty – promoting a natural relationship to movement. If that’s just a dream or if a natural relationship to movement can become a part of the global reality is much up to the way how we, as a human race, but also individually regard, promote and live movement.
In that matter, Team Jestion sure got something right!
Parkour in Hollywood
As the world of cinema evolves with climbing budgets, CGI and animation become more advanced and new directors and stunt-coordinators have to compete with more sophisticated and realistic action sequences. Parkour, Freerunning and Tricking are now factors in the action genre that have to be considered.
Where in the 50’s an 60’s a Western was the reason to go to the movies, the Action Hero genre is definitely the genre of our day and age.
It’s not only that the budgets are rising, but Stuntmen can be more specialised because hidden extreme-sport talents can be discovered everywhere in the internet world.
If it’s William Spencer as skate-boarding Spider-Man stunt double, Captain America landing perfect Corkscrews, or if it’s Deadpool catching up on the Parkour trends throwing a perfect 360-diveroll, more and more skilled athletes are conquering the sets of Hollywood.
Hopefully this will give more movers the chance to work professionally as experts in the industry as Hollywood continues to improve their authentic stunt work. No longer can the average stuntman live up to a mad Parkour sequence, but movement specialists, traceurs and trickers can step up the game of the action movie industry.
Hollywood as a Source for Inspiration
With the action cinema rising to new heights there is a chance to take movement to a more personal level as well. The regular viewer 40 years ago didn’t have the understanding of movement the average theatre guest has today. People get more sensitive to what is realistic and to what looks natural. And movies like The Jungle Book 2016 can actually help to remind people of their longing for natural movement.
More often than not after watching an an action movie as a kid I felt inspired to move just as the characters I had seen on screen.
If you discover that fancy new move Spider-Man did, or if we simply feel inspired by the will to act of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman – up until today movies still serve as a source for inspiration and inner strength.
Here is one other example from the first Matrix movie where the Trinity Flip has its name from.
Movies cannot stay the sole source of inspiration though. It’s on us to be out there. To be open for those who are actually willing to become stronger, self-empowered movers and beings. We ought to teach movement based on principles, rather than rituals.
For me, the greatest proof I have experienced that we have the power to make a difference in today’s world, was when a Kid told me that rather than being able to control and use “the Force” from Star Wars, he would want to be able to move like us. The Traceurs. The Freerunners.
We have the super-hero status in kids’ eyes. Now it’s a matter of using our position responsibly.
How do we do that? What do you think?