Jungle Blu-ray Review
Welcome to the real jungle
Jungle is the true life story of an ill-advised quest for beauty and riches which turns into a desperate fight for survival makes for an ultimately harrowing experience.Daniel Radcliffe's post-Harry Potter career trajectory hasn't exactly involved any great hits, but it has been packed with a surprisingly diverse and occasionally quite impressive range of somewhat indie features which showcase an actor determined to - against the odds - act. From Horns to Swiss Army Man to Imperium and now Jungle, he's challenged expectations at every stage, taking on some quite tough roles and doing his best to embrace the parts. Here he takes to the Bolivian jungle in a true life story of a man who is part of an amateur group that get in over their heads looking for gold, and soon get swallowed up by the jungle.It's a small piece, which - probably due to its true-to-life origins - doesn't stray too much from the path in terms of survival narratives, but it benefits from being played straight and avoiding the kind of eccentricities which made Swiss Army Man an odder watch (even if it's something of a reversal of role for him here). Radcliffe is on strong form, committing to a part that demands a lot from him, and pulling off a fairly good accent (except when things get hairy). Of course the jungle is the antagonist of the piece, attacking him with insects, animals and starvation - before it starts getting really creative with hallucinations. Jungle makes for a suitably solid survival drama.
Picture QualityThe UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release of Jungle delivers the film with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Benefiting from some stunning vistas and a gorgeous natural backdrop, there are plenty of the demo sequences throughout the piece, although disappointing black levels keep it from getting a reference score.
Largely an excellent video presentation
Detail is generally very good, with what looks to be 35mm cinematography crafted with that slightly softer focus - particularly around the edges of the frame - but still affording the film a wonderfully filmic look that certainly benefits the striking jungle canopy, rushing rapids, and gorgeous sunsets. Close-ups offer some excellent finer observations of skin textures - increasingly worn and weathered - with clothing weaves following suit, and the background teeming with the minutiae of the jungle. The colour scheme embraces lush green foliage, some lovely skies and the aforementioned sunset, whilst the woodland browns are rich and deep. There are a number of intentionally bleached flashback/hallucination sequences which look considerably worse and remind you just how gorgeous the jungle is. At night, things start to fall apart a little, though, with black levels nowhere near as inky as you'd like, giving the image a slightly grey edge. Nonetheless, this is largely a excellent video presentation.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a surprisingly well-constructed audio affair, delivering the core elements - dialogue, effects and score - with strength and resolve. It's hardly reference material, but it does the job nicely, providing welcome support to the main feature.
The soundtrack does the job nicely
Dialogue remains prioritised across the frontal array, afforded room to breath and clarity and coherence throughout, although taking a backseat for large swathes of the feature, which is driven by a sometimes melancholy, sometimes hopeful little score that does a tremendous job at following the sentiment of the narrative; heightening the tension where required, pulling the heartstrings where necessary, and delivering hope when you least expect it. It's the effects that stand out though, bringing the jungle environment to life, the undergrowth teeming with activity, enveloping you in the surprisingly claustrophobic expanse of the environment, as rapids crash waves down on you, thunder crackles above you, and insects crawl around beneath you. It'll leave you scratching for ants after the hallucinatory moments, and it's an impressively nuanced aspect of the aural offering.
ExtrasThere's a hefty wealth of supporting material attached to the disc, with a couple of Featurettes - Becoming Yossi offering a look at what Daniel Radcliffe undertook for the role, with some nice behind the scenes footage of the shoot, and contributions from the cast and crew in interview snippets who all talk about how committed Radcliffe was, with the same participants chipping in for Making the Yossi Ghinsberg Story.
A strong selection of extras
The rest of the extras are Interviews, but there are a hell of a lot of them, with separate interviews for almost each and every cast and crew member, from Radcliffe to Joel Jackson, Yasmin Kassim, Alex Russell and Thomas Kretschman, with the writer himself involved, as well as director Greg McLean, a bunch of four producers, the director of photography and the production designer. It's a strong selection of extra features.
Blu-ray VerdictJungle is a solid survival drama and a decent disc
Daniel Radcliffe is the acting highlight in this perhaps familiar but nonetheless decent survival biopic, even if it's the jungle that's the most interesting character, with the film granted very good video and audio as well as a hefty selection of extra features. Fans should consider it a strong release.
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