Friday, June 27, 2014

The Jungle DVD Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
In the final film in director Andrew Traucki's "trilogy of terror", following The Reef and Black Water, a team of conservationists sets out to explore the dense Indonesian rainforest in search of the legendary javan leopard. But the deeper into the jungle they journey, the more nervous the group's native guides become - local legend has it that a deadly werewolf-like creature roams the dense jungle. Determined to complete their mission, the expeditionists venture farther into the darkening forest, only to discover they are being stalked by an unseen predator: one that has no fear of humans.
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
Conservationist Larry Black and his filmmaker brother, Ben, travel deep into the Indonesian rain forest with only a couple of guides in order to find the elusive Javan Leopard.  Larry wants to film, catch and tag the endangered species.  If he succeeds, the Indonesian government will fund conservation efforts for the animal.  After finding some evidence of the animal's feeding ground, the small group sets up camp and waits to see what they find.
On the first night, Larry and Ben hear movement in the trees around them, but conclude it was just the live chicken they've tied up as bait.  However, upon looking at the recording, they see a figure dart in front of the camera.  They can't tell if it is indeed the leopard, so they quietly check out the area.  Come morning, they travel deeper into the woods, searching, and find footprints and drag marks.  Returning to camp, they prepare for a second night of watching and waiting.
Luckily, they are finally able to catch the leopard on camera and rush out searching for it.  They lose it in the dark forest and begin the search again the next morning.  While searching, one of the guides refuses to continue on, but does after some convincing.  The group finds more remains and drag marks and Larry is adamant about following them.  When one of the members of the group is attacked, they all realize they need to get out of the jungle and go for help.  However, Larry insists on finding out what it is and leads the group deeper and deeper into the jungle.
This found footage-style film is predictable, but entertaining.  I enjoyed the sub story which pointed out the need for conservation and the decline of so many animals around the world.  Whether that was intentional or not, I don't know, but in spite of the horror film storyline, I caught the conservation message.  The actors were good in their roles.  All characters felt real and not forced and it didn't seem like they were acting.  I felt like I was watching an unedited, found footage film. 
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The widescreen 16x9 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation of The Jungle was good.  It's a single-camera film that is made to seem like it's a group out filming raw footage, prior to any editing.  The colors were good and because it's set in the Indonesian jungle, there is a lot of green.  The use of the green was just right with the palette varying in shades of green.  All were bright and authentic-looking.  Night scenes were also done well.  There is a lot of black -- as one would imagine in the middle of a jungle -- and the black of night was a true black.  When using the night vision, it was clear, yet grainy, just as night vision tends to be.  The colors themselves made me want to visit this place... even though there's something obviously out there!
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
You know audio is good when you can hear all the goings on in the middle of a jungle.  The 5.1 Dolby Digital sound brought the jungle to life and I could clearly hear the movements of the creatures, the chirping of the insects, breathing of the characters and animals.  Twigs snapping, animals growing, heavy breathing, this all added to the suspense in the film and had me wondering what was going to pop out, when and where. Audio in 2.0 Stereo and English SDH subtitles are also available.
Extras (0 out of 5 stars)
There are no special features on DVD copy of The Jungle, save for the trailer.  I was hoping for at least a behind-the-scenes feature that showed the shooting locations and any difficulties the filmmakers made have had while there.
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The score was brought down significantly by the lack of special features, even though it scored pretty well everywhere else.  The Jungle is a predicable but entertaining film that had just the right amount of suspense.  I tried really hard not to compare it to other found-footage films and think I did a pretty good job.  The Jungle is a movie I know I will watch again, and look for things I may have missed the first time.

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