Lionsgate’s latest CG animated feature Jungle Master is one of the year’s more welcome family features to come along so far in 2014. Unlike so many of the movies released in recent years by Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar, Jungle Master actually takes the road less travelled. The movie’s animation is the most obvious way in which it takes that road less travelled. Despite being a CG presentation, it doesn’t bare that cookie cutter appearance of the movies released by Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar. Another reason that it stands out is its run time. The movie’s run time comes in at just under the ninety-minute mark. That’s a very good thing and will be discussed later. Last but not least of all that makes this movie stand out is its script. The story lifts lightly from The Wizard of Oz believe it or not and adds in a touch of Avatar for good measure as well as other sci-fi flicks. The end result is a story that the while it may never be as big as anything from Dreamworks or Disney/Pixar, is still enjoyable in its own right. It proves to be a movie that the whole family should watch together and will enjoy together when they do watch it together.
Jungle Master is not one of the most well-known family flicks to be released by any of Hollywood’s major studios this year. That aside, it still proves in the long run to be one of the year’s more welcome family friendly flicks. One reason for that is the movie’s “animation.” Lionsgate’s CG features are completely unlike those of Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar in the realm of animation. It’s almost impossible to tell Dreamworks’ CG movies from Disney/Pixar’s because they all look alike. The only way to really differentiate the two studios’ works is by the studio names. That speaks volumes. Lionsgate on the other hand has strived to keep itself separate from the mold used by those studios in terms of its animation. The look of Lionsgate’s CG movies is rawer for lack of better wording. But it isn’t raw to the point of looking like some pieces from perhaps independent studio Engine 15 Media Group and others. There is actually some attention paid to detail with Lionsgate’s CG movies, including this one. That attention to detail helps Jungle Master maintain its own identity separate from its bigger name counterparts from Dreamworks and Disney/Pixar. It even helps the movie to maintain its own identity from Lionsgate’s previously released CG features. That mostly original look is just one of a number of positives that surround Jungle Master and make it stand out among this year’s crop of CG movies.
The largely original look of Jungle Master plays a key role in the movie’s ability to keep audiences engaged through its entire eighty-two minute run time. That run time is another reason that families will enjoy this movie. It doesn’t even reach the ninety-minute mark. That relatively short run time drastically increases the chances of keeping audiences engaged from start to finish. This is especially the case with the movie’s target younger audiences. Most of the CG movies released since 1995—which is when Pixar broke the mold and released Toy Story—have averaged about ninety minutes. There have been a small number of movies that have come in just under that time. But most either reach the ninety-minute mark or go well over it as was the case with Toy Story 3. That movie came in at almost forty-five minutes. Luckily its story worked well enough that it still succeeded and quite well at that. Speaking of story Jungle Master’s story works wonderfully with its run time. Its story combines elements of a number of other movies to make a story that somehow actually works. It’s one more way in which Jungle Master works and makes itself one of this year’s more welcome family films.
Both the look of Jungle Master and its run time are important to the movie’s overall success. They each play their own important role to the overall presentation as they both have an impact on whether or not audiences are kept engaged. Luckily, both factors succeed by themselves and together. As much as they succeeded, the look of Jungle Master and its run time are not all that made this direct-to-DVD feature work. One would be remiss to ignore the movie’s script as an equally important part of the whole. The movie’s script centers on a twelve year-old girl named Rainie (pronounced rainy) who runs away from home ater her mother forgot about her birthday. It is assumed by the fact that Rainie was upset enough to run away that her mother (who remains nameless throughout the movie) has probably left Rainie alone more than once. Her decision to run away ends up taking her to al alien planet and a much biger adventure that is directly linked to the company for which her mother works. It’s thanks to her adventure that Rainie realizes her mom hasn’t intentionally ignored her, obviously leading to an eventual reconciliation between mother and daughter. The central story of the parent/child relationship is obviously anything but new. It’s been done more times than a person can count on his or her own two hands. However, the story’s execution is what makes this plot work. Screen writer Steve Kramer lifted liberally from the likes of The Wizard of Oz and Avatar to make this story. While he obviously lifted from the noted movies, Kramer didn’t try to just remake them and mix them together. He used them more as influences for his story about family. What’s more he balanced said elements quite well; well enough in fact that audiences will be moved to overlook the references to said movies and enjoy the presented story.
Kramer’s re-telling of original writer/director Xu Kerr’s story is one of the most important of this movie’s aspects in considering its level of success. He obviously used at least a couple of rather well-known movies that have come before as both influences and elements of this movie. But he also didn’t try to just rip off either work. He balanced them together to make a largely original story that centers on family. That creativity and homage still is not all that makes this movie work. One should also take into account the movie’s cast and even its bonus shorts. Victoria Justice (Victorious, Victoria Justice, iCarly), Jane Lynch (Glee, Hollywood Game Night, Wreck-It-Ralph), David Spade (Just Shoot Me, The Benchwarmers, Tommy Boy), Josh Peck (Drake & Josh, Ultimate Spiderman, Ice Age: Continental Drift), Christopher Lloyd (Cyberchase, Back to the Future 1 - 3), and John Lovitz (Saturday Night Live, The Critic, Gorwn-Ups 1 & 2) make up the movie’s cast. Lovitz proves to be the real star of the story with his comical antics voicing Mulla. The fact that so many well-known names overall would feel confident enough about such a movie makes it even more worth the watch. And the bonus shorts included with the movie will entertain children for a little while after the movie ends. These extra positives combined with the positivews already noted make Jungle Master a movie well worth at least one watch together by any family. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at:
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