‘Avengers: Endgame’ (spoiler-free) review: Marvel’s gratifying finale

‘Avengers: Endgame’ brings pride and joy to the fans who have invested in the MCU franchise, 11 years and 21 movies ago.

After the “snappening” in Infinity War, audiences, myself included, are left with our jaws on the floor as the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) wipes half of the living creatures in the universe. It’s a superhero film where the supervillain wins at the end – it’s far from the crowd-pleasing ending expected, yet it’s something fresh that we can definitely dig. Serving as the culmination to Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3, Avengers: Endgame assembles the surviving heroes one last time to avenge the fallen. The trailers, however, drop very minimal hints. What’s exactly going on in this solid 3-hour film? Are the ‘vanished’ really dead or are they just inside the soul stone? Will time travel through quantum realm be the means to undo their demise? I can neither confirm nor deny these fan speculations in this discussion. One thing I can guarantee for sure, this groundbreaking film exceeds the hype. It even retroactively deepens our love for the previous films. If this isn’t perfection, then I can’t even imagine how to make a more gratifying version than this.

The gang is back. (Half of them anyway). Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd and Scarlett Johansson in ‘Avengers: Endgame.’

Whereas the main attraction of Infinity War is its earned fan service spectacle, Endgame surprises as the most emotional and most contemplative MCU film to date. There’s plenty of fuel here – loss, grief and guilt are the prime ones to motivate our core six Avengers. Y’all should know them by now but since this will be their swan songs, I’d mention them anyway. There’s genius inventor Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), super-soldier Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), rage monster Bruce Banner/Hulk, god of thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth), deadly assassin Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and a vengeful marksman Clint Barton/Hawkeye returning from his absence in Infinity War. Rounding up the troop are Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Rhodey/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and newly-minted Avenger, Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely once again deserve high merits for successfully juggling an overwhelming amount of characters, with the OG crew getting the lion’s share of show-stopping moments.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) drifts into space.

The character and ensemble work is better than expected, with every A-lister bringing their A-games to the table. Downey’s subdued grief and reliable cocky screen presence supplies much melancholy and joy. Evans finally gets to play with Cap’s lifetime of regrets from being frozen in ice several years ago. Ruffalo sells both the neurotic scientist and the rampaging Hulk. Hemsworth feels loose and natural as a self-deprecating comic god. Johansson lends an unexpected emotional weight to the film and Renner has so much soulfulness in his eyes. What most trailers don’t show is how much time is devoted to make these characters appeal as more than a team, but rather as each other’s adopted family. By this point, most of us see them as friends. We worry for their safety. We heavily root for them. Genuine emotional connection is the magic that MCU has built all these years.

“Even if there’s a small chance we can undo this, we owe it to everyone that’s not in this room to try.” – Black Widow

Endgame also serves as a testament to the majestic directorial skills of the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, in tying up a decade’s worth of storytelling into a poignant and hair-raising climax. The film bears plenty of callbacks from its franchise’s earliest entries, along with a top-notch cinematography and even the frenetic quality of the comic books. It’s emotionally-overwhelming and that’s because Endgame is a layered film at its best. It’s an epic superhero spectacle, an inventive heist, a dramatic tale of courage and loss, and most of all, an exploration of what it means to be a family and a hero. The hearty takeaway is this: heroism is not defined by superhero abilities, but by what one is willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) joins the Avengers in ‘Endgame.’

It’s true that Endgame will have a much deeper impact for the diehard fans. With its sense of finality pervading throughout, the film takes its viewers to a roller-coaster of emotions: I was gasping, laughing, crying and cheering (sometimes all at the same time). Its tragic yet uplifting. To say that Marvel has outdone themselves with their carefully crafted emotional beats, thrilling action sequences and heartbreaking farewells, is an understatement. No other movie franchise has done this feat in Hollywood history.

“Let’s go get this son of a b—–.” – Steve Rogers

MCU caps off an era by being more than just 11 years of entertainment. This is the cinematic superhero journey of a generation. Part of that journey is the end but with each ending comes a new beginning. The past is golden and the future looks bright. I give my heartfelt gratitude to all the characters and to all the true and unsung heroes of Marvel.

5 out of 5 stars
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow and Josh Brolin. Based on ‘The Avengers’ by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. 181 minutes.

Sacrifice is the undercurrent theme in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ (Spoiler Review)

Marvel’s latest gargantuan, Avengers: Infinity War, has already earned a whopping $1 billion within its first 11 days of release (the fastest film ever to do so), surpassing the biggest opening weekend set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens (for US release) and The Fate of the Furious (for worldwide). Most impressively, Infinity War has nabbed this record (and all sorts of box office records) without the help of the world’s second biggest movie market, China. (The film opens there on May 11). Kudos to the whole crew and cast! It’s safe to say that a huge demographic of moviegoers has already seen this and we can finally go in depth with everything that happened in this epic installment.

WARNING: This is a spoiler discussion. If you want to have an untainted viewing experience, I suggest to check our spoiler-free reviews instead.


‘INFINITY WAR’ STARTS WITH A BANG


Avengers: Infinity War
“Oh, mighty Thanos, I, Loki, Prince of Asgard, Odinson, The Rightful King of Jotunheim, God of Mischief, do hereby pledge to you my undying fidelity.” – Loki, handing the Tesseract to Thanos

The purple mad titan Thanos makes an impression right of the bat by killing off two major characters from the Thor franchise – Heimdall and Loki. The Guardian of the Bifrost’s death makes sense with the destruction of Asgard and the uncertainty of future Thor sequels. Fan theorists, on the other hand, are not entirely sold on Loki’s death considering the “God of Mischief” surely has better plans than deliberately attempting to stab Thanos right in his face.  Still, we can’t ignore if Thanos’ line, “No resurrections this time” is a meta-reference that seals his fate.

Avengers: Infinity War
“Hear me and rejoice! You have had the privilege of being saved by the Great Titan.” – Ebony Maw to the dying Asgardians

We are also introduced to the short-lived, one-dimensional but nevertheless formidable Thanos’ henchmen a.k.a. The Black Order – Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, Cull Obsidian (Hulk’s counterpart) and Ebony Maw. If I have to pick a favorite, it has to be Maw and his dope telekinesis powers that allows him to effortlessly split cars in half. “Squidward” can easily obliterate most of our heroes but his skills apparently won’t stand a chance against someone like Peter Parker who “has seen more movies.” Taking up on the kid’s suggestion, Tony Stark blasts a portion of his spaceship and Maw is flushed into the vacuum of space, a reference to the film Aliens. Indeed, being a film geek has its own advantages too, especially when it comes to extinguishing intergalactic creatures.


HOW THANOS IMPROVED THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE


Now, I partly discussed on my previous review why Thanos is arguably the best MCU villain to date – how his spiritual journey of collecting the infinity gems is tied up to addressing real-world problems. Let’s add a few more reasons to that.

Avengers: Infinity War
“All that for a drop of blood?” – Thanos

First, Thanos and his children forced our heroes to step up their A-game. Iron Man’s nanotechnology increases his fighting chance to a whole new level and Spider-Man gets a free upgrade as well with his spider-legs (something that Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield can be jealous of). Thor earns his title of a Norse god as he forges a new warhammer, Captain America equips himself with two shields this time and even Black Widow manages to hold her own with two electric batons. Doctor Strange, however, bags the MVP award for bringing up most of the new tricks in his sleeve which I will inaccurately call as the “crimson bands of imprisonment”, “the butterfly effect” and some form of “Naruto’s Kage Bunshin no Jutsu technique” (You get what I mean). The battle in planet Titan stands out the most as the whole showdown turned into a Dragon Ball-Z affair (albeit one that doesn’t suck). Yep, Thanos just lasso-ed a moon and threw it on our heroes. Still a great effort #TeamIronMan, #TeamCap will get him on planet Earth (no they won’t).

Avengers: Infinity War
“Broke up? Like a band? Like ‘The Beatles?'” – Bruce Banner, clueless to the Avengers break-up in ‘Civil War’

Next, instead of Banner having a basic storyline of playing catch-up on Earth’s events, Thanos improved his arc by giving him a performance anxiety issue. Fear is usually not a part of the Hulk’s vocabulary, even in Thor: Ragnarok when he has shown willingness to go head-to-head against the overpowered fire demon Surtur. In this film however, Thanos puts an end to his child-play, lifts him up in the air like a professional wrestler and gives him a taste of his classic “Hulk smash!” (Now he knows what Loki felt like in Avengers 1). Down goes his esteem and Banner fails to unleash the Hulk for the rest of the film. It works as a comic relief plus we get more of Banner, so it’s a win-win. Hulk’s shattered ego will surely be explored in Avengers 4.

Avengers: Infinity War
“Let’s talk about this plan of yours. I think it’s good, except… it sucks. So let me do the plan, in that way. It might be really good.” – Star Lord on rebutting Tony Stark’s plan

Most importantly, Thanos teaches Star-Lord a valuable life lesson of putting your head above your emotions so you won’t act like a reckless kid. Peter Quill’s rage essentially costs the Avenger’s win and he indirectly condemns half of the universe in the process. To his defense, his reactions are very human (for a half-human, half-celestial being) and I’m not sure if any of his human haters won’t do the same if they find out that their significant other is killed by their demented father-in-law. Anyway, since Tony Stark went into a profound maturation after inadvertently creating Ultron in Avengers 2, we can hopefully expect some growth from this lovable man-child in the future. Oh wait, he disintegrates into ashes in the end right? Well, more of that later.

NEXT: The twisted love-hate relationship of Thanos, Gamora and Nebula

RECAP: Everything you need to know before watching ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Hey MCU fans (or casual moviegoer who has never seen any Marvel film but wants to join the hype for Infinity War anyway)! We are only a few days away from the premiere of the biggest event in the history of cinema and my guess is that you don’t have enough time to re-watch all 18 MCU films (translate to: 38 hours and 19 minutes of movie marathon, no CR breaks included). But fret not, your “friendly neighborhood” is here to give you a recap of all the MCU films, including the post-credit scenes that you might have missed. Here’s everything that you should (and might) know before watching Avengers: Infinity War. Spoilers ahead! Obvi.

PHASE ONE

  • In 2008, MCU kicks off with the introduction of the genius, billionaire, playboy Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Iron Man. After almost dying, thanks to the weapons of destruction he created, Stark builds himself an arc reactor to keep himself alive and an iron man suit to fight off his evil business partner Obadiah Stane who plans to exploit his technology and overtake his company. The film also introduces Stark’s friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes, his personal assistant Pepper Potts and his A.I. system Jarvis. Director Nick Fury pops up in the post-credits scene to explain the “Avengers Initiative” to Stark.
  • Next up is The Incredible Hulk – this is not to be confused with the earlier adaptations starring Eric Bana and Lou Ferrigno. A nuclear physicist and biochemist Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) inadvertently exposes himself to gamma radiation which causes him to transform into an enormous green monster (the “Hulk“) when agitated. He defeats the Abomination in a massive battle and learns that there is no permanent cure for his condition but only an antidote that can suppress each of his transformation. In a post-credit scene, Tony Stark approaches General Thunderbolt Ross and informs him that he’s assembling a team.
  • Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) steps on the ring in Iron Man 2 and works as an undercover assistant for Tony Stark. Stark builds a new triangular arc reactor for his chest and together with her and Rhodey/War Machine (Don Cheadle), they defeat Whiplash, a physicist who wants to exact vengeance on the Stark family. In a post-credits scene, agent Phil Coulson reports the discovery of a large hammer at the bottom of a crater.

READ MORE: Survival odds of each hero appearing in Avengers: Infinity War

  • Of course this hammer referred to is the enchanted Mjolnir in Thor. Exiled to Earth, the titular hero/prince of Asgard (Chris Hemsworth) proves himself worthy to reclaim the hammer and defeats the Destroyer. Thor’s father, Odin banishes his adoptive son Loki (Tom Hiddleston) for plotting to take the throne for himself. In a post-credit scene, Nick Fury asks Dr. Selvig to study a mysterious cube-shaped object.
  • The said mysterious relic is called the “Tesseract” that actually houses the “space infinity stone” inside. In Captain America: The First Avenger, we go back to 1942 when Johann Schmidt/Red Skull and Dr. Arnim Zola intend to use the artifact as an energy source for world domination. In the same timeline, skinny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) enlists himself in the U.S. military, gets injected with a super-soldier serum and becomes the super-buff Captain America. Rogers infiltrates the fortress of Schmidt’s Hydra organization and defeats the Red Skull. His friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) presumably dies during the mission and Rogers, piloting a jet, crashes in the Arctic. He wakes up 70 years later and Nick Fury proposes him a new mission.
  • The first crossover of the franchise, Marvel’s The Avengers pits our core six heroes: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk (now played by Mark Ruffalo) and newcomer Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) against Loki who takes the Tesseract and opens a wormhole to allow his Chitauri army to conquer Earth. The Other gives Loki a powerful scepter with the “mind stone” attached to it allowing him to control the minds of others. After the Avengers won the battle in New York city, S.H.I.E.L.D. takes custody of the scepter while Thor returns Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard. In a mid-credits scene, it is revealed that The Other is a personal servant to Thanos.

NEXT PAGE: Phase Two

Survival odds of each hero appearing in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

The time of reckoning has come. Opening in Philippine cinemas this April 25 is Avengers: Infinity War. The culmination of 10 years and 18 movies leads to this most gigantic and fatal crossover in the history of cinema. And what way to end this event of cosmic significance? With a big bang.

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn said in his interview with Vanity Fair: “If Marvel is going to survive, they have to start allowing characters to die.” Likewise, Marvel president Kevin Feige has been vocal on pushing the narrative forward. It’s not even a question at this point. Heroes WILL DIE in Infinity War. I can only imagine the trauma that it will bring to me the kids. The superheroes we’ve grown to love over the years falling into the clutches of Mad Titan Bruce Willis Thanos. And yes, there will be heavy hitters.

Let’s head on and speculate the survival odds of each hero appearing in this installment. It must be noted that Infinity War is a two-part event and these predictions are extended to both parts.

*Spoilers from previous MCU films follow*

PROBABLY SAFE: Hawkeye/Clint Barton
Fans are much disappointed with the lack of Hawkeye’s presence in the trailers released but the Russo brothers assured that he will be in it, “Hawkeye is in his own personal mission.” We haven’t seen the final infinity stone yet (a.k.a. the soul stone) – could he be searching for that?

Now leaked set photos shows actor Jeremy Renner wearing Ronin’s leg armour. Revealing him in that costume might be the reason why Marvel won’t include him in the promotional materials. Anyway, if he’s set to take this darker persona in Avengers 4, he looks pretty safe.

PROBABLY SAFE: Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff
After a long-running complaint from the fans, Marvel is finally pushing a stand-alone Black Widow movie with Jac Schaeffer penning the script. There’s no confirmation yet if it will be set on the events after Infinity War or if it is a prequel (perhaps they should finally touch on the Budapest mission she and Hawkeye have been talking about), but wouldn’t it be weird to focus on Natasha’s character right after killing her? Black Widow’s solo film spares her from Thanos’ wrath.

PROBABLY SAFE: Dr. Stephen Strange
There’s no confirmation yet for a Doctor Strange sequel but it’s almost certain that it’s about to come. Being part of the new breed heroes introduced in Phase 3 gives him a guaranteed passage. He will act as the bridge for the heroes that are yet to be introduced in MCU. It should be noted he can harness the Time infinity stone’s power to turn back time (though Thanos will probably take it). That could play a factor in reversing the deaths in Infinity War.

MIGHT BE IN DANGER: Wong
This won’t be the master of mystic arts’ first encounter with death. Wong was already killed by Kaecilius, only to be revived by Dr. Strange. In a sea of A-list heroes, he’s in the expendable category and he may be an early casualty.

PROBABLY WILL DIE: Vision
Vision is toast for sure. Attached on his forehead is the mind infinity stone – the very thing that brought him into existence! Thanos needs that and he’ll be an underwhelming villain if his full powers won’t come into fruition. Sure enough, a shot from the trailer shows Vision in crippling pain as one of Thanos’ minions pry on his forehead. But, since he is a synthetic avenger, there’s a slim chance that Tony Stark can reconfigure his life back. That is, if Tony is still around…

(CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE)

Team Cap fights for Avenger’s freedom in ‘Captain America: Civil War’

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” begins and ends with its lead character Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans). After another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.

“It’s the first time Steve doesn’t really know the answer,” says Chris Evans. “It’s always pretty cut and dry for him to know which side of the coin to fall on but this one is tricky because this conflict is a little more akin to a day-to-day struggle that we all go through where there are no clear lines between what is right and what is wrong. There’s just a point of view, and I think it’s hard for him to understand what the right thing to do is and what his role is this time around.”

Steve Rogers’ Team Cap consists of Sam Wilson aka Falcon, Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier, Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, Clint Barton aka Haweye and Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch.

For Sebastian Stan, getting the chance to play the fan-favorite character for the third time was a welcomed surprise. “They could’ve done anything with the character,” says Stan. “But I was really happy as an actor because I felt like I got a chance to play a lot of different colors. The Winter Soldier is a little bit in the middle in this film; you see flashes of Bucky Barnes. Things are coming back to him and he’s learning about himself. At the same time, he’s no longer that same guy. He’s always going to have that Winter Soldier shadow over him going forward.”

A fully initiated Avenger now, Anthony Mackie plays the Falcon who has become Steve’s right hand man on the team. “In this movie you see Falcon in more of an authoritative role,” reports Mackie. “It’s not so much him following Steve or Steve giving demands. He’s more of an ally and more of a companion to Steve. He has more input on the missions and what’s going on.”

Clint Barton played by Jeremy Renner returns to the mix. “For Hawkeye, it’s really like a direct link from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ into ‘Captain America: Civil War,’” says Renner. “When we last left Hawkeye, he went back to see his family. That was where he was the entire time until the Avengers started fighting. So he comes out of retirement, if you will, when he is asked to come help out Steve.”

Elizabeth Olsen returns as Scarlet Witch, now a full-fledged member of the Avengers team. But after a messy mission in Lagos results in collateral damage, the government steps in, creating a situation where Scarlet Witch has to choose a side. “Basically it ends up being this argument politically about whether or not the Avengers follow their own rules or if they should follow the government rules and become a government-regulated union,” explains Olsen. “At that point of the film, Wanda’s more terrified of causing harm to people than choosing a political side. She ends up fighting with Cap’s team. It was more about being accepted and less about actual political beliefs.”

Another new face on the Avenger team is Scott Lang aka Ant-Man. For actor Paul Rudd, making his first crossover into another franchise was a bit surreal for the actor. “It’s been a real trippy experience so far and amazing,” says Rudd. “When we shot ‘Ant-Man,’ I thought, it’s amazing, it’s great, it’s really fun, but we were also kind of working in a bubble. When I showed up here for the first time and was doing a scene with Captain America and Falcon and all of them, I turned into a bit of a 10 year old. It was pretty strange and really cool. For the first time I thought, ‘Man, I really am part of it,’ and it’s exciting.”

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Emily VanCamp, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd and Frank Grillo, with William Hurt and Daniel Brühl.

Anthony & Joe Russo are directing with Kevin Feige producing. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Nate Moore and Stan Lee are the executive producers. The screenplay is by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.

Get ready to pick a side and join the nonstop action playing out on two fronts when Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” opens across the Philippines on April 27, 2016.

Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures. Follow the official social media accounts of Marvel, namely, (FB) MarvelPhilippines, (Twitter) @marvelstudiosph and (Instagram) @marvelphilippines and use the hashtags #choosewisely, #teamcap, #teamironman.

‘Iron Man’ director Jon Favreau helms Disney’s all-new ‘The Jungle Book’

Acclaimed director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”) takes audiences on a wild ride back to the jungle, in Walt Disney Pictures’ all-new live-action epic adventure, “The Jungle Book.”

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel, “The Jungle Book” tells the story of Mowgli, a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan, who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera, and the free-spirited bear Baloo. Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa, a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie, who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

According to Favreau, story is king. “I think films have to offer an emotional experience for the audience,” says the director. “The spectacle won’t mean anything if they’re not engaged emotionally with the characters. Every story needs humanity, emotion and character development, as well as humor—presented in a way that doesn’t betray the stakes of the film. There are white-knuckle moments in the movie when you wonder, ‘what’s going to happen to this kid?’”

Filmmakers didn’t set out to create a beat-by-beat literal remake of the original animated film, nor a total return to Kipling’s version. Finding just the right tone for this new version of the story was a fundamental priority. Favreau’s adaptation of “The Jungle Book” draws its inspiration from the beloved Disney animated classic, while still retaining the gravitas and mythology inherent in Rudyard Kipling’s original stories.

Says Favreau, “We kept going back to the basic idea of Mowgli as a boy raised in the jungle who is forced to leave because of the presence of this big bad enemy—the tiger Shere Khan. We have Mowgli who’s living a happy-go-lucky life, but doesn’t quite fit in a jungle because he’s human. Although he’s been raised by wolves and lived in the jungle, he doesn’t have the physical attributes required to survive in that environment. The jungle—beautiful with some friendly inhabitants—is a very dangerous place.

“We borrow from Kipling in that it’s an environment where there’s real jeopardy,” continues the director. “It’s not safe for a kid. We took the basic story structure of the animated film, but we do it in a way that has a more story stakes. We play with a tone that has a lot more jeopardy and where survival isn’t necessarily a given.”

“It’s a coming-of-age story about a kid who is figuring out his place in the world,” adds producer Brigham Taylor. “The adventure is real, the stakes are high, but at the same time, the film is warm and humane. It’s hard to find that combination, but Jon brings it all to the table.”

According to Favreau, it’s that balance that appeals to viewers of all ages. “As a parent, I’m so grateful when there’s a film that’s appropriate for my kids see but doesn’t talk down to them. Kids can keep up with sophisticated storytelling. Walt’s dream was always to pull families together but not necessarily in the most obvious or predictable way.

“In our version, if you’re a Disney fan, you’ll notice attention to detail that honors the film’s legacy,” concludes the director. “If you’re a kid seeing ‘The Jungle Book’ for the first time, you might forget to eat your popcorn it’s going to be a really fun ride.”

The wild adventure swings into Philippine theaters in 3D on April 6, 2016. “The Jungle Book” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney in the Philippines, namely, (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph and use the hashtag #JungleBookPH.

‘Iron Man 3′ star James Badge Dale sees action anew in ’13 Hours’

“Iron Man 3” star James Badge Dale sees action anew in the big screen as ex-Navy SEAL Tyrone “Rone” Woods in director Michael Bay’s new epic action-adventure “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” from Paramount Pictures.

“13 Hours” is the gripping true story of six elite ex-military operators assigned to protect the CIA who fought back against overwhelming odds when terrorists attacked a U.S. diplomatic compound on September 11, 2012. When everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right.

The film is written by Chuck Hogan, based on the book 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff and Members of the Annex Security Team. The film also stars John Krasinski, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber, Toby Stephens, David Denman and Dominic Fumusa.

13 Hours movie-JBDale_03

Dale’s real-life character, Woods, was known for a particularly intense workout while serving as a CIA contractor in Benghazi, Libya: He would heave a massive tractor tire to keep himself in top shape. Dale knew he had to reach that level of fitness in order to portray Woods effectively.

“That was a 450-pound tire — that thing was heavy,” Dale says. “But that’s what (Woods) did: He would drag that tractor tire around the CIA annex. It was important for me to do that.”

Pushing himself physically was where Dale, 37, started for his role in “13 Hours.” Woods is one of the pivotal real-life figures who died after stepping into battle during the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

Dale spent two months in intense training, consuming 5,000 calories a day to put on 20 pounds. “We all have this dream of gaining weight, eating whatever we want. And it was beautiful for a while. Then it got dark. It changes your relationship with food,” Dale says. “I was waking up in the middle of the night, eating meals and going back to sleep. I was an angry, miserable person.”

13 Hours movie-JBDale_02

He also spent the time talking to those who served with Woods so he could zero on his trademark simmering intensity. Woods “had spent 20 years as a Navy SEAL. He was a hero long before that night,” Dale says. “He didn’t have bluster. He didn’t brag.”

The role has pushed the actor — already known for playing PFC Robert Leckie in the HBO Marines miniseries “The Pacific” and as henchman Savin in “Iron Man 3” — to an impassioned level.

“It is really James Badge Dale who carries the film and brings the emotional punch it needs,” says Colin Motill, editor of the movie site NotYetRated. Mark “Oz” Geist, who served with Woods in Benghazi, says he was wowed seeing Dale. “Rone had this quiet intensity about him that (Dale) somehow brought out. I saw the man I knew onscreen once again.”

“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” opens across the Philippines on January 27, 2016 as distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.