The Jungle Book
Visually stunning and adrenaline pumping, “The Jungle Book” is Disney’s newest live-action movie and it is amazing. You will leave the theater humming or singing some old favorite songs that have been redone for this new version of the film. In this re-told classic epic adventure, we follow Mowgli(newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves, and now finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle. The Fearsome tiger Shere Khan(voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Man does not belong in the jungle, and Shere Khan wants to take his revenge out on Mowgli. Forced to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by his panther mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray), who will have you laughing with his antics. On this thrilling journey, Mowgli meets jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, like Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub. Then you have other creatures like King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to talk Mowgli into sharing the deadly secret on how to create the red flower: fire, which only man knows how to do. “The Jungle Book” is based off of Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s beloved classic animated film. “We embrace the mythic qualities of Kipling in the more intense tonal aspects of the film,” says director Jon Favreau, “but we left room for what we remember from the ’67 film, and sought to maintain those charming Disneyesque aspects.” Only the latest technology was used to tell the story in a fresh, contemporary and immersive way, combining live-action performances with stunning CG environments and extraordinary photo-real animal characters that artists stylized to elevate the storytelling.
“‘The Jungle Book” is a universal coming-of-age story that everyone can relate to,” says producer Brigham Taylor. “Walt told the story through traditional cell animation and now we have the technology to actually bring these characters to life, make them photo-real and put a real kid into the environment in a seamless, believable way. The opportunity to be able to show that with today’s technology was irresistible.” 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 2 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?'”
Full of the latest in CGI spectacle, “The Jungle Book” has a special charm and playful manner about it. The film can go to some dark places at times and can get a bit intense. Without giving anything away, there are some scenes with Shere Khan, Kaa, and King Louie that can get a little hairy, leaving Mowgli in some sticky situations and might be a little scary for some of the younger ones. Neel Sethi makes for the perfect Mowgli, and he truly makes the fantasy come alive and seem so real.