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Preview: Movie Night

August 18, 2016

written by Brian Shesko

What would Fall Welcome Week be without a Movie Night? It would still be very good. However, it is hard to argue that a Movie Night does anything other than make Fall Welcome Week better. So please, do not argue with us. Come to the Vines Center on Saturday, August 27 for a double feature of these:

  • The Legend of Tarzan – 8:00 p.m.
  • The Jungle Book (2016) – 10:00 p.m.

On one hand, it does not seem to be surprising to see more than one critic ask why or how The Legend of Tarzan came to be. Maybe by pointing this out we’re cutting off our own vine in mid-swing, so to speak, but this is our nicer way of pointing out that this movie was not particularly well-reviewed. Besides, how many current moviegoers, especially that coveted 18-39 year old demographic, were clamoring for more of a character that has been represented on movie screens over 50 times since 1918, a few of those occurring since 1998? And as other reviewers have asked, given the current socio-political climate in the US, is this really the time for a reboot of the British colonial, white-guy-as-king-of-the-jungle hero story that is Tarzan? Well, on the other hand, it’s pretty clear that the Tarzan filmmakers were aware of these things, as the cast and certain plot points suggest. The various historical issues of the story are present but primarily serve as a backdrop and catalyst for the action. Samuel L. Jackson as George Washington Williams gets to be both Tarzan and the audience’s guide through it all; his facial expressions are probably the closest thing to what everyone should feel as they watch this movie. This lets Christoph Waltz be his usual, slightly insane bad guy self, Alexander Skarsgard be the almost perfectly physique-d Tarzan, and Margot Robbie the near-perfect Jane. Plus, since no one is coming to this movie for a thorough exposition and denunciation of European colonialist practices circa 1881-1914, it should allow most folks the chance to enjoy Samuel L. Jackson wisecracking and Tarzan swinging on things, fighting some people and some animals, and, of course, saving Jane.

Our second movie for the night is the most recent version of The Jungle Book, which at least critically speaking is the polar opposite of The Legend of Tarzan. One of the best reviewed movies of 2016 (so far), The Jungle Book is a CGI marvel and an absolute load of fun to watch. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising at this point, but it is amazing to hear how some actors are almost able to voice their own persona into an animated character, and this is particularly true for those in The Jungle Book: Bill Murray (Baloo), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Christopher Walken (King Louie), and Ben Kingsley (Bagheera). The seamless blend between live action and animation is largely the result of an excellent performance from new actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli. It’s an outstanding blend of nostalgia and novelty, and you should come see it whether you’ve seen it already or not.

As usual, we will provide free popcorn and lots of inexpensive junk food and drinks for your snacking pleasure. Enjoy the show!