Fresh on Blu-ray: ‘JUNGLELAND’ a sensitive tale of boxing and brothers, ‘CRAFT’ reboot deserves to be seen

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James Clay // Film Critic

THE CRAFT: LEGACY

Rated PG-13, 97 minutes
Director: Zoe Lister-Jones
Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna, Gideon Adlon, Michelle Monaghan, David Duchovny

THE CRAFT LEGACY is more than just the slowed-down cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and a mainstream cash grab. The Zoe Lister-Jones (BAND-AID) directed film has a pulse and is reimagined for 2020 woke culture without pandering to its audience. Jones’ film gives itself a reason to exist by refining the tone and witchy plotline that’s more coherent and gives its coven more of a satisfying dynamic. 

Hannah (Cailee Spaeny) and her mother, Helen (Michelle Monaghan) have been a twosome for years, and now Helen is settling down with her new man Adam (David Duchovny) and his three sons. For anybody who has been to a horror movie, you can assume this smells of trouble. Adam is one of those men’s rights speakers who slyly hides his authoritarian approach to discipline from Hanna and Helen. 

Meanwhile, a group of three burgeoning witches (Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna, and Gideon Adlon) are practicing their powers but lack a fourth to complete their elemental ritual. Having embraced Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth, the four young women want to make their environment a better place from the toxicity that envelops their high school and personal lives. 

Lister-Jones updates this sequel by embracing the femininity through its characters instead of reducing her feelings to a third act catfight (glaring at you WW84). Each one of their powers is utilized in a way that brings them together rather than pulling the witches apart. Like most films, there are third act problems, but at the core of the film, this is a film about practicing a craft (excuse the pun) and coming into your own. 

RENT OR BUY: If you’re a fan of the original, THE CRAFT LEGACY provides a satisfying followup that rights many wrongs the teens committed in the 90s. It’s safe to assume most people looking for a fun flick will want to give this a rent rather than shelling out the big bucks for the privilege of owning. Plus, I’ve always been critical of Blumhouse’s lackluster special features (minus the commentary for GET OUT), which continues that trend. However, this could be because of the pandemic. 

Special features: The two featurettes total five minutes in length, so don’t get too excited.

  • Franchise Legacy
  • Magical Director
  • Four Alternate scenes

Grade: B

THE CRAFT: LEGACY is available on Blu Ray and VOD from all major online and in-store retailers.

JUNGLELAND

Rated R, 89 minutes
Director: Max Winkler
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’ Connell, Jessica Barden

The bare-knuckle boxing film JUNGLELAND from Max Winkler (FLOWER) is one of those hyper-masculine weepies about brothers who can’t express their feelings without punching or ruining their entire lives. To be a bit reductive for a second, these types of films are Hallmark movies aimed at making dudes cry. By and large, the story is riddled with cliches. Still, its trio of actors (Charlie Hunnam, Jack O’ Connell, Jessica Barden) ground the film in a humanity that never feels false, only infuriating for the string of life-ruining decisions that are at every turn. 

Hype man and lifelong degenerate Stanley (Hunnam) and his bare-knuckle boxing little brother Lion (O’ Connell) are in search of a better life. For them, it’s either all or nothing. They are hoping to go from recycled Adidas tracksuits to custom made Italian threads in the span of a night. Winkler wastes no time showing the undying spirit yet chronic naivety that encumbers these two well-meaning yet fundamentally flawed bros. After Stanley ruins their chances at a solid yet reasonable payday, the duo has to do a few favors for some real bad men who are moving young women over state lines. TThat’sright this is about sex trafficking, more than it is boxing, and Winkler handles this subject with fear and sensitivity. 

The two brothers have added a third wheel, a wayward teen (Barden) who has run away from her slave master. Their job is to bring her back unharmed and they’ll get the chance to compete in a bare knuckle boxing tournament. 

Hunnam has a history for going for big performances in films very few people have seen, and despite his own penchant to overact, he finds a gravitas to Stanley that’s infuriating, therefore wholly believable. At the same time, O’Connell is reliable as the quiet and reserved workhorse. JUNGLELAND is murky, gross, and heartfelt to the point where you may either roll, bawl your eyes right out of your head. 

RENT OR BUY: JUNGLELAND lacks any special features and only received a DVD release, so your best bet is to rent the 4K version off of your favorite VOD retailer. Undoubtedly JUNGLELAND will have a life after its initial release, and more people will discover this film as it trickles down to streaming services. 

Grade: B

JUNGLELAND is availble on DVD and VOD through all major online retaillers.

About author

James C. Clay

James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.