Jon Favreau is back in the director's chair this week with his new film The Jungle Book, which is an adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling novel and is inspired by the Disney film of the same name.
The Jungle Book is set to be one of the biggest movies of the spring and I cannot wait to see Favreau put his own stamp on a story and characters that we all know so well.
We take a look back over Favreau's directing career and some of the great movies that he has brought to the big screen over the years.
- Made (2001)
While Favreau had worked in TV, Made marked his feature film directorial debut back in 2001 - it was 2002 when the hit cinema screens here in the UK.
As well as being in the director's chair for Made, the movie saw Favreau take on the central role of Bobby Ricigliano alongside Vince Vaughn, Peter Falk, and Famke Janssen.
Made follows Bobby and Ricky, two aspiring boxers and lifelong friends who get involved in a money-laundering scheme through a low-level organized crime group. The movie was seen as a follow-up to Swingers, which was released in 1996 starring the duo.
While Made is not as clever or as good as Swingers, which was also written by Favreau, this is a solid directorial debut that is witty and has plenty of laughs.
Favreau and Vaughn make a terrific comedy team and you cannot help but root for these two central characters from the moment that you meet them. The duo banters well and brings to life some terrific dialogue.
Made was a movie that was met well upon release and really introduced Favreau as a filmmaker. Prior to Made, he had been better known as an actor and as a writer.
- Elf (2003)
Favreau turned to more mainstream comedy for his second movie as he was at the helm of Christmas movie Elf - which has gone on to become a festive season classic.
Will Ferrell took on the central role of Buddy, a man raised as an Elf. It is a role that Ferrell will forever be synonymous with as he gives a terrific comedy performance. Ferrell was joined on the cast list by James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Daniel Tay, Edward Asner and Zooey Deschanel.
Buddy is a regular-sized man who was raised as an elf by Santa Claus (Asner). When the news is finally broken to Buddy that he's not a real elf, he decides to head back to his place of birth, New York City, in search of his biological family.
Elf is a movie that is packed with Christmas cheer and is now regarded as a modern day classic in this genre of film. It is a charming and funny film that sees Ferrell on top comedy form. He really does take this character and make it his own - it is not hard to see why people have taken this character to their hearts.
This was only the second feature of Favreau's career and it was a monster hit for the filmmaker. Elf went on to gross over $220 million at the global box office and was one of the most successful comedy movies of the year.
- Zathura: A Space Adventure (2006)
Favreau fans had to wait three years until he returned to the director's chair in 2006 with Zathura: A Space Adventure.
Zathura: A Space Adventure was loosely based on the illustrated book Zathura aby Chris Van Allsburg - David Koepp and John Kamps teamed up to pen the screenplay.
Brothers Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and Danny (Jonah Bobo) are drawn into an intergalactic adventure when their house is hurled through the depths of space by the magical board game they are playing. Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, and Tim Robbins completed an exciting cast list.
With Zathura: A Space Adventure, Favreau showed that he was a master with special effects as he has created a truly stunning looking movie. The visual effects pull you into the story and really do take you on an exciting adventure.
However, Favreau stops the film from becoming totally about the effects as he put the brothers and their relationship at the heart of this story - making it a very human tale.
While Zathura: A Space Adventure was a big hit with the critics, it was a movie that did not fair too well at the box office; failing to make back it's $65 million budget when it was released.
- Iron Man (2008)
In 2008, Favreau tackled the superhero comic book film for the first time as Iron Man blasted onto the big screen. This was the first of the Marvel movies that would kick off an exciting series of movies that all weaved and linked together over the next few years.
Robert Downey Jr took on the central role of Tony Stark in what was to be the first collaboration between the actor and filmmaker. Downey Jr was a genius piece of casting as Iron Man re-established him as an A-list star and Hollywood heavyweight.
Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe in fine style as Favreau crafted a film that is funny and intelligent as it is action packed. This is a movie that comic fans can enjoy as well as those who are discovering this character for the first time with this film.
Downey Jr just steals the show as the quick-witted and self-obsessed Tony Stark. He is the film's anchor and heart and soul and I just cannot see any other actor ever playing this role as well. Yes, there is an arrogance to Stark, but Downey Jr plays him in a way where the audience never loses sympathy for him. From start to finish, you want this character to triumph.
Iron Man was both a critical and commercial success as it grossed over $585 million at the global box office. Two more movies have followed and Iron Man is the most successful standalone Marvel franchise to date.
- Iron Man 2 (2010)
Two years later Favreau returned to the Iron Man franchise - which he also appears in as Happy - with the sequel Iron Man 2.
Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow were back while Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell. Mickey Rourke, and Samuel L. Jackson were also on board.
At the beginning of Iron Man 2, the whole world knows that Tony Stark is Iron Man. Now Stark must battle the vengeful Ivan Vanko - who has links to Stark's father - and his own declining health.
While Iron Man 2 doesn't quite hit the dizzy heights of the first film, it is a terrific action movie that sees Downey Jr on top form once again. It delved further into the character and background of Stark, shedding some light on his relationship with his father.
The introduction of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow is handled well and Favreau gives the character time to show just what she is capable of. Black Widow has gone on to be one of the most popular figures in the MCU.
Iron Man 2 was an even bigger box office success than its predecessor as it grossed over $623 million at the global box office. However, it didn't quite get the same critical praise as the first film.
- Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Just a year later, Favreau was back with Cowboys & Aliens, which was based on the graphic novel of the same name by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby came together to pen the film's screenplay.
A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way.
Daniel Craig starred in the central role of
Jake Lonergan and was joined on the cast list by Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, and Paul Dano.
This great cast really do deliver some great performances - Craig and Ford, in particular, do stand out and drive the film forward.
However, Favreau struggles to balance the mix of sci-fi and Western elements - resulting in a rather disjointed and unevenly paced film. It is such a shame that Favreau couldn't quite pull it off as Cowboys & Aliens is an interesting premise and the cast list is loaded with talented actors.
The movie received mixed reviews upon release and went on to struggle at the box office. The movie grossed $174 million - just making back its $163 million budget.
- Chef (2014)
Favreau bounced back from the disappointment of Cowboys & Aliens in 2014 as he returned to indie filmmaking with Chef. As well as being on writing and directing duties for Chef, the movie saw Favreau take on the central role of Carl Casper.
And the director assembled another impressive cast list as he starred alongside Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downy Jr.
Chef Carl Casper (Favreau) suddenly quits his job at a prominent Los Angeles restaurant after refusing to compromise his creative integrity for its controlling owner (Hoffman), he is left to figure out what's next. Finding himself in Miami, he teams up with his ex-wife (Vergara), his friend (Leguizamo) and his son to launch a food truck. Taking to the road, Chef Carl goes back to his roots to reignite his passion for the kitchen - and zest for life and love.
Chef was one of the surprise treats of summer 2014 as Favreau and co delivered a true gem of a film. It was as charming and sweet as it was sharp-witted and laugh out loud funny. It really was a breath of fresh air during the blockbuster summer season.
Chef was a real passion project for Favreau and it showed him back on form from a directing point of view - it was also great to see him show off his acting skills with a major leading role. He delivers an incredibly human performance in a film that gives us a slice of real life.
The movie was met well by the critics and enjoyed box office success. it made back its $11 million budget by taking $46 million.
The Jungle Book is released 15th April.