Movie Review: JUNGLE (2017)

Back in March I had the awesome opportunity to attend a screening of The Belko Experiment followed by a Q&A with director Greg McLean. During the Q&A, someone asked what he was currently working on that we could look forward to next and he briefly and vaguely spoke about his next feature that would star Daniel Radcliffe, titled JUNGLE. I’ve been a fan of McLean’s films since the beginning of his career, so I was automatically excited about his upcoming feature and I’ve been anticipating it all year long. The time finally came where I was able to sit down and watch JUNGLEand I have never been more excited to share my thoughts on a film.

JUNGLE is based on the true story of a man named Yossi Ghinsberg and his companions, Kevin (Alex Russell) and Marcus (Joel Jackson), who follow a guide named Karl (Thomas Kretschmann) on a trek through the Bolivian jungle. Hungry for adventure and longing to explore this mostly uncharted territory, Yossi jumps at the opportunity to follow the seemingly experienced Karl on this adventure of a lifetime. Kevin and Marcus, however, are a little more reluctant to embark on the journey. Faced with every possible danger the jungle has to offer, the group must fight for survival while being physically, mentally, and emotionally tested by the jungle itself and each other.

I don’t want to say too much, as this is a film that was beautifully experienced not knowing a whole lot about it beforehand, although if you’ve read the book of the same title or know anything about Yossi’s story, you may already know how things turn out. I, personally, went in as blind as possible. I knew the film was based on a true story, but that was about the extent of my knowledge and I’m so glad that it was. Unlike McLean’s previous work, JUNGLE is not in any way a horror film, at least not in the context of traditional horror. It was wonderfully exciting to see him tell a story that was so different from many of his others and it was amazing to see how diverse a director he can be. I sobbed through the final moments of the film and as the credits began to roll, beginning with a few extra facts about what happens in the story from where the film left off, I was a blubbering mess.

In the most condensed and simplest terms, JUNGLE was beautiful, intense, terrifying, visceral, inspiring, and so full of heart. Talent radiates from every aspect of the film, shining through every scene shot and every word spoken. The direction and cinematography are impeccable and the performances, especially that of Daniel Radcliffe, are honest, raw, and awe-inspiring. Next to Alejandro Iñárritu’s The RevenantJUNGLE is one of the most intense survival films I have ever seen and Yossi’s story is one of the most captivating and inspiring memoirs of the human experience I have ever heard. JUNGLE is real, JUNGLE is human, and it is by far one of my favorite films of the year. Do not sleep on this one. JUNGLE is a film that everyone should see, a story that should be heard by all.

JUNGLE is coming to theaters on Friday, October 20th as well as On Demand / Digital HD. Find a showtime near you and don’t walk, RUN to your nearest cinema to catch this gripping story of survival on a big screen, opening weekend.

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