The Jungle Book is an exquisitely visual, hopeful movie that made me cry at least thrice.
I’m a Disney stan as is, and I am so pleased, in spite of Walt Disney (ha!) and his dubious prejudices, that not only have they managed to make fantastic movies for my childhood, but also for my (pseudo) adulthood. I mean, we’ll allow that slump of bad choices (I am still as yet undecided about The Princess and the Frog, and Brave, which they only released, but…) to be overshadowed in entirety by this gem of a production.
The Jungle Book is the classic tale on which most of the other boy-brought-up-by-wolves movies are taken from (George of the Jungle, Tarzan, etc) written by beloved author and wordsmith Rudyard Kipling (If, Rikki Tikki Tavi, Gunga Din). The actual book, The Jungle Book, was an anthology of many stories based in India, and then Mowgli proved so popular that the second book had an additional five fables featuring him alone. I could go on a bit about Rudyard, but I digress…
Mowgli is brought up by wolves and has to go back to human kind after Shere Khan, a (gorgeously animated) tiger with a vendetta, starts to hunt him down. And so his journey through the forest begins.
The 1h50 min long movie stars Neel Sethi as Mowgli, and the voices of Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, and Bill Murray, and is directed by Jon Favreau. Yes, the guy who directed Iron Man. Lol. I like that George Miller Syndrome – the guy who directed Babe, is the same guy who directed all of the Mad Max movies.
What I loved – each character is the same a in the original Disney movie, but subtly different. For example, Baloo, who appeared later in the Disney Afternoon cartoon series of TailSpin (OOOOEEEEAAAAE! OOOOOEEEEOOOOE!), is the same fun loving bear in the movie, but with an additional twist. The only character for me that was completely exact was Bagheera, the black panther, who is Mowgli’s guardian. But you will be ok with that. The twists make for an interesting movie.
They didn’t keep all of the songs, but they kept the right ones. And if you haven’t watched the original, then you won’t mind that.
The movie is beautifully done. Everything looks so real and so minutely detailed, it’s a spectacle of colorful glory on a big screen that simply blows you away – particularly when you are watching, really watching, the animals – every time Shere Khan walks onto the screen, you see his every footfall, every sinew, as if through a lens that brings out every singular motion. It’s breathtaking, I tell you!
Then the simple lessons, that Rudyard Kipling is famous for, came across so well. So much so, that I walked out of the cinema with a new hope for humankind and justice. Seriously. Mostly because of the earnest and stellar acting from (the only human in the movie,) Neel Sethi.
What I didn’t like – you know, of all the characters I didn’t think I would like? Go figure – Scarlett Johansson as Kaa. I don’t know why it is – ok, I do, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.
I’d give this movie a strong 9 and a half. There were maybe one or two plot points I didn’t agree with, but all in all, I would watch it again. It was a very satisfying retelling of the 1967 (!) classic.