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Jungle: Radcliffe delivers, but the narrative lacks

Emma Luciw

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Jungle is an enticing film that follows a young Israeli during his intensely agonizing journey of survival. Yossi Ghinsberg, played by Daniel Radcliffe, is a young man looking for adventure in Bolivia. He comes across a Swiss teacher named Marcus, played by Joel Jackson, and an American photographer named Kevin, played by Alex Russell. The three quickly become close friends, and agree to follow a mysterious tour guide who promises exclusive trails and a look at Indian tribes. As the journey becomes more complicated, Yossi is split up from the group and is left alone in the jungle for three weeks. He escapes death multiple times, and has you on the edge of your seat for the rest of the movie.

Director Greg McLean did an amazing job of showing us the intensity of trying to survive in the jungle. I was gripping my seat so hard my knuckles were turning white during some scenes. Since I love sitting on the edge of my seat so much, I think the amount of time spent focusing on Yossi’s struggle alone should have been prolonged greatly. The amount of time the intro and build up to the split of all four adventurers was much too long. I would’ve liked to see more of the struggle Yossi had gone through and the toll it truly took on him. Since the story itself is already absurd, I would’ve liked to see more unbelievable things to keep the story exciting throughout the whole film. The ending seemed a bit rushed, and I did not really feel as though Yossi was alone for three weeks. Radcliffe did an outstanding job of portraying a young, crazed, and dying man. I felt all of the emotions he was reflecting. I believe Radcliffe is doing an amazing job of expanding his talents away from his Harry Potter role.

The special effects for the most part were okay; some scenes were out of place and did not tie into the movie nicely. It was hard to say whether or not they were hallucinations of Ghinsberg or not. The sounds added to certain scenes got the point across for sure, but it was definitely too much at times. The sounds would’ve fit a horror movie nicely, but since this is only an action/thriller film, it did not appeal to me. Some of the flashbacks were out of place, and if you read the book, you would know that he didn’t experience them at all during his time in the jungle, so again, some things were out of place. McLean seemed to be looking for spaces to fill between the exciting scenes of the movie.

After watching the movie, I became very interested in the story and wanted to hear it from Yossi himself, so I turned to his book. Although Ghinsberg is a great writer and had lots to tell, I couldn’t seem to finish the book. Maybe it was because it wasn’t my kind of genre that I usually read, or because I typically don’t go out on adventures so I can’t relate even a little bit. There were parts of the book that were really boring and I found myself zoning out a few times. I feel as though some parts of the story were missing, and there was never a clear timeline, just like the movie. Although we were able to interview Ginsberg over Skype, I wish he would’ve told the whole story personally so I could get a better picture. Although, I was lucky enough to pose a question that made his story more intriguing: “What was it that kept you going at your lowest point while you were lost in the jungle?”. He then replied with: “There was a miracle; a hallucination I think. And that hallucination was of a young woman that appeared next to me that needed my help. So what saved me was not somebody that helped me, but somebody that needed my help.”

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie, and also Daniel Radcliffe’s work. The film is action-packed, thrill-filled, and even has the ability to tug at your heart strings, even if they’re a little bit frozen. The story itself is absolutely incredible, and director McLean did a great job of showing it. Even though I had a few things to pick at, I would still recommend the movie to anyone looking for an exciting show which will keep them on the edge of their seats.

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Jungle: Radcliffe delivers, but the narrative lacks