• Jungle



    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: March 7th, 2018.
    Director: Greg McLean
    Cast: Thomas Kretschman, Alex Russell, Joel Jackson, Daniel Radcliffe
    Year: 2017
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    The Movie:

    Based on the book by Israeli traveler Yossi Ghinsberg (which was in turn based on his own exploits), Greg McLean’s 2017 film Jungle stars Daniel Radcliffe as Ghinsberg himself. The film is set in the 1980’s where Ghinsberg travels to the jungles of Boliva to do some exploring and just sort of satiate his wanderlust. Here he meets two other men, Kevin Gale (Alex Russell) and Marcus Stamm (Joel Jackson), and they strike up a quick, casual friendship. Soon enough, they decide to travel together up the Amazon river with Karl (Thomas Kretschmann) serving as their guide.

    Things start off well enough – the three travelers are seeing some beautiful sights and really getting first hand knowledge of what it’s like to just exist in an environment as beautiful and intense as the Amazon jungle is. As they head deeper into the jungle and further away from civilization, Karl tells the group stories about some treasure that may be hidden away and a supposedly lost tribe of Amazonians that prowl the area. Things go wrong when an unexpected whitewater rafting exploit splits the group, with Yossi and Kevin putting together a makeshift raft and leaving Karl and Marcus on their own. Eventually Yossi winds up flying solo, having to navigate the dangerous terrain on his own and as he does, his mind starts to crack…

    A remarkably tense and beautifully shot mix of adventure and horror, Jungle takes on an almost Herzogian vibe as we follow Ghinsberg through some of the toughest terrain in the world. Radcliffe is absolutely fantastic in the lead, and it’s great to see him taking chances on less mainstream roles since leaving Harry Potter behind him. As Ghinsberg, he’s completely believable in every way that you could hope he would be. As his mind starts to go, as hunger and fear give way to hallucination, Radcliffe’s performance responds and intensifies in kind. He’s really quite remarkable here – we absolutely feel for him and for the situation that he’s wound up in.

    Of course, the fact that the supporting cast is also very strong doesn’t hurt things. Russell and Jackson as his travelling companions do very good work here, while German born character actor Thomas Kretschmann is also impressive, playing the tour guide character with enough energy and enthusiasm that you can see why the other three men would be lulled into a sense of security strong enough that they’d traipse off into the jungle with him.

    Director Greg McLean, probably best known in North America for the Wolf Creek films/TV series and for Rogue, does a great job keeping it all together behind the camera. The movie probably could have been tightened up by ten to fifteen minutes and been better for it but otherwise, this is quite nicely paced and it builds tensions expertly. The visuals are impressive, cinematographer Stefan Duscio really gets some impressive footage while Johnny Klimek’s score hits all the right notes at all the right points.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Jungles looks fantastic on this 50GB Blu-ray disc from Umbrella, who present the film framed at 2.39.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Color reproduction on this transfer is gorgeous and there’s loads of detail present throughout. As this was shot digitally there’s obviously no print damage or grain issues to discuss, while fine detail is typically very impressive. The picture offers very nice depth and texture and is free of any noticeable compression artifacts.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track and it’s excellent. This is, when the movie calls for it, a very aggressive mix that makes great use of all channels in the mix. The jungle itself comes alive quite frequently with plenty of rear channel activity pulling us into the movie and the storyline. Effects and score placement are spot on, the levels are nicely balanced and the track is clean, clear and very concise. Removable subtitles are offered up in English only.

    Extras start off with a ten-minute Becoming Yossi featurette wherein the cast and crew discuss what went into bringing the character’s story to the big screen. This is complemented by a fourteen-minute piece called The Making Of The Yossi Ghinsberg story, another EPK style piece made up of more cast and crew interviews. And if you want yet MORE cast and crew interviews, check out the Cast And Crew Interviews section where pretty much everyone involved with the film is interviewed for just over two hours in length. There’s lots of talk here about what inspired the film, what it was like working out on location, the performances, McLean’s direction and quite a bit more.

    Finishing up the extras are a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Jungle is pretty tense stuff, an effective man against nature thriller highlighted by a genuinely excellent performance from Daniel Radcliffe. Umbrella’s Blu-ray release looks beautiful, sounds fantastic and contains quite a bit of extra content. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!