Jon Favreau chats about The Jungle Book filming process

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Director Jon Favreau came to the Apple Store in London last week to chat about The Jungle Book and I obviously had to go and check it out cos I’m a big fan of his acting/directing work – ever since he was the Ultimate Fighting Champion on Friends!

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The Jungle Book: Film Review

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I groaned when The Jungle Book was announced and didn’t feel any hype when the trailer came out. I just didn’t want this beloved tale to be rebooted and I am very against an overreliance on CGI. But I was wrong. The effects capabilities here are beyond anything I have ever seen before – the animals and locations are so realistic and this is the first film since Avatar were 3D actually made a difference. I loved it wholeheartedly.

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The Walk: Film Review

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All the buzz around The Walk seems to be about the visual spectacle element and sure, it does look amazing, immersive and you do feel like you are on the wire with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But once you strip all these style pointers away, the film is missing something, and I’m not totally sure what that is.

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Iron Man 3: Review

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The reason I loved this movie was because it was funny, it had heart and it wasn’t just your standard action movie. There wasn’t constant fighting and it was very dialogue driven. It was clever, witty and hilarious as well as subverting genre expectations for comic effect.

Robert Downey Jr returns as Tony Stark in the third (if not final) instalment in the Iron Man trilogy. He is having nightmares after what happened in the Avengers and is having difficulty coping, so he has put all his energies into refining the iron suit. As you saw in Avengers, he is now with his assistant (now CEO of Stark Industries), Pepper Potts, played by the lovely Gwyneth Paltrow. The military now use an iron suit which is manned by Rhodes (Don Cheadle), called the Iron Patriot.

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Things seem to be going smoothly for Stark until a terrorist starts threatening the US with bomb attacks. The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) seems like his most powerful opponent yet but everything is not as it seems. The reveal is hilarious because the villains in action movies are usually so one-dimensional.

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It is different to the usual action formula, which I love. It seems to be more focused on making Stark look cool (easy job!), having witty dialogue and being incredibly funny. I laughed more at this than I do intentional comedies these days. Stark is a fallible hero and this is evident from the movie- his suit doesn’t always work,  or it is a prototype not fit for fight/flight or it just listens to JARVIS rather than him. There isn’t really a single fight sequence where Stark gets to kick butt with an all singing and dancing suit. Something seems to go wrong every time and while I liked how refreshing that was, proper action nuts would have been craved a serious battle.  

Guy Pearce plays baddie Aldrich Killian

Guy Pearce plays baddie Aldrich Killian

I actually preferred all the down-time moments when we just listen to Tony talk and be all charismatic rather than all the action scenes. I didn’t really like the “evil” Tony faced and while Guy Pearce plays the baddie perfectly, I did think the whole “Extremis” concept was rather crazy. The action scenes got boring after a while, especially as an iron suit versus a red-hot super soldier battle can go on forever.

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I loved that Gwyneth got to don the suit and kick some butt, she definitely has more to do than in the previous films and I think that’s great. Before, Tony used to treat her like crap whereas in this movie, he realises how much she means to him and that’s where the film gets its heart. The best part for me is when Tony is in Tennessee and meets a young boy named Harley. He becomes his sidekick briefly and helps him fix the suit. The dialogue between them is hilarious. Kingsley’s Mandarin character had a brilliant twist which he plays perfectly and Rebecca Hall was frankly underused and poorly defined.

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This is far better than two and I would whole-heartedly recommend it. It is less action focused than the others and focuses more on Tony as a person but I still really enjoyed it. The plot is as sketchy as any action movie but the dialogue, humour and amazing cast make up for it. As a side note, stay until after the credits to see a hilarious scene with the Hulk!