The Jungle Book
Mowgli, Baloo and Bagheera are back in this live action retelling of Disney’s The Jungle Book! After I first saw the trailer for this one I was a bit excited and also a bit wary, because of the fiasco that was Maleficent. (Yes I’m still reeling from that!) I’m all for bringing back the Disney classics in live action, but not if they’re going to butcher and alter the original stories. I don’t know about you, but it’s just not my thing. That being said I’m really happy with the way The Jungle Book came out.
As the story goes a young boy is abandoned in the woods where he is taken by the black panther Bagheera voiced by Ben Kingsley (The Boxtrolls, Iron Man 3, Shutter Island) who decides to bring the young, as the animals like to call him, man-cub to the wolves so that they may raise him as one of their own. The leader of the wolf pack Akela and the mother wolf Raksha voiced by Giancarlo Esposito (They Die by Dawn, Breaking Bad *Series, Do The Right Thing) and Lupito Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Non-Stop) name the man-cub Mowgli, who is played by Neel Sethi (The Jungle Book *2016) growing up he is engulfed in the wolf way and want’s nothing more than to truly be part of the pack. There’s one obvious problem with that: Mowgli is no wolf. He’s always left in the packs dust during training sessions with Bagheera and his know-how to create weapons and other inventions for survival are seen by his animal friends as…well weird. But things only get worse when, during a drought, Sher Kahn returns to the jungle, voiced threateningly by Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation, Thor, American Gangster). Sher Kahn is not happy to find a man-cub living in the jungle informing of how once Mowgli grows into a man he will be a great threat to their home. He leaves with a heavy threat that as soon as the rains return and peace no longer prevails he will dispose of young Mowgli.
So, guided by Bagheera, Mowgli makes his leave from the wolf pack with the understanding this will keep his family safe. However one thing he does not understand is why he has to leave the Jungle altogether. But situations arise that lands Mowgli at the paws of Baloo voiced favorably by Bill Murray (Aloha, Get Low, What About Bob?) who finds Mowgli’s knack for creating things as a gift and asks the boy to team up with him. He helps Baloo get food and in return he keeps Mowgli safe. Sounds like a winning deal right? But when Sher Kahn begins picking off Mowgli’s wolf family to try and draw him out and the added threats of crazy King Louie voiced by Christopher Walken (Wedding Crashers, Man on Fire, Search and Destroy) a large orangutan and Kaa voiced by Scarlett Johansson (Scoop, Home Alone 3, Lucy)a deadly boa constrictor it becomes apparent that things aren’t quite so simple in the Jungle.
One thing that is particularly clear about this movie is how much fun the creators seemed to have bringing these animals to life with the CGI effects! Especially at the end of the movie where they play around with the animals doing cutesy animal stuff as the credits roll. Writer Justin Marks did an incredibly good job of breathing some new life into a story that we grew up with in a way that doesn’t take from the original story and I find that very impressive. The young actor playing Mowgli, Neel made a terrific first step onto the big screen I enjoyed him in this role and being the only live person throughout the film had to have been challenging, but his interactions with the CGI animals was enthralling and I couldn’t help but smile during the scene where he and Baloo splash through the river singing the Bear Necessities. My childhood swooned! Like I said I loved the script and how the story played out, but one thing I wished they would have kept was Sher Kahn’s alliance with Kaan (Scarlett was just epic as a snake) and those three buzzards that liked to sing. Remember them? I think that would have been fun to see.
Rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril.
Rotten Tomatoes has this live action family movie at a 95% Fresh. How awesome is that?
I loved it. Hands down. I’m super excited for Disney’s next live action project, which should be Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson! My childhood just swooned again! Go see this movie and take the family. You have Bill Murray as a large bear singing the Bear Necessities. That right there is a win on it’s own and the rest is just the cherry on top.