Lionsgate’s Latest Family Friendly CG Centerpiece Will Entertain The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

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, WreckItRalph), 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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Ice Age 4 A Funny, Heartwarming Finale To The Ice Age Franchise

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The newest and likely final installment of the hugely popular Ice Age franchise is by far the best of the series.  This franchise started out as being okay at best.  Now with this installment, audiences are presented with a story that combines comedy, pop culture, and even classical literature for a work that the whole family will enjoy.  As audiences will learn in the bonus features of the upcoming home release, it’s a re-telling of the classic tale of Odysseus.  The addition of comedic elements and an all-star cast make it that much more enjoyable for both parents and children.  And it will easily make it the favorite of the Ice Age franchise for the family, too.Ice Age: Continental Drift is the best of the franchise so far.  Far too often in the current era of movie making, the trend has been that sequels have become increasingly worse as time goes on.  This story, on the other hand, has done the exact opposite.  It has shown that it is possible for a franchise to get better as it goes on.  It’s a good movie first and foremost in that it managed to combine Peaches’ coming-of-age story and Manny’s Odysseus story without hindering each other.  Audiences get two stories that eventually intertwine thanks to the writing staff behind them.

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

As the movie goes along, the comic timing of its a-list voice cast will garner laughs both from parents and kids alike.  Wanda Sykes is a laugh riot throughout the story as Sid’s grandmother.  Her jokes about the last time she took a bath and her constant calling out to her pet, “Precious” make for plenty of funny moments throughout the story.  Add that in to John Leguizamo’s still spot on humor as Sid counterpointed by Ray Romano and Denis Leary, and audiences continue to get loads of laughs.  The laughs brought from the entire cast raises another interesting point about the movie’s success.  Considering that this is in its most basic form an ensemble movie, no one character ever outshines the other.  The chemistry between the cast keeps the story moving.  Though it manages to keep itself moving to begin with, making it that much easier to watch.

Audiences will enjoy Ice Age:  Continental Drift thanks to its cast and its story.  They combine to make for a movie that parents and kids alike will enjoy.  There’s at least one more element that makes it a movie worth checking out.  The bonus features included with its new home release reveal that it is in reality a take-off of the classic myth of Odysseus.  Learning this makes for more appreciation as it can be used as a way to introduce younger audiences into the world of Greek Mythology.  It shows how entertaining classic mythology can be.  So in essence, it can actually promote literacy without even trying.  For that, the story and all involved deserve commendation for their efforts.  It’s more proof of the importance of bonus features in home releases of any movie.

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

This is one movie that didn’t necessarily need bonus features to make it more enjoyable.  But the feature showing how this story came to life does add even more appreciation for it.  Fans will see that for themselves when the DVD, BD/DVD combo Pack and 3-D BD sets are all released.  Ice Age:  Continental Drift hits stores and online outlets December 11th, just in time for the holidays.  It can be ordered direct online at

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