The Jungle Book

Disney’s animated take on Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book is a timeless classic. My mother is even fond of telling me about the Jungle Book theme I had in my room as an infant. So it was with great interest that we covered the new live-action film version which continues a successful tradition for Disney of adapting their animated classics into live-action features. For those not familiar with the story it involves a young boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi), who was found alone in the jungle by a panther named Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), Mowgli is put in the care of a Wolfpack under the custody of Raksha (Lupita Nyong”o), who raised him as one of her own in the ways of the pack.

Mowgli grew and thrived under this arrangement and was loved and accepted by those in his group. Unfortunately Mowgli eventually draws the attention of a tiger named Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who has a deep disliking and fear of humans and what they’re capable of and thus demands that Mowgli be turned over to him so he removed the human threat from the jungle. Unwilling to let Mowgli be killed, Bagheeera agrees to take the boy to the Human Village where he will have the protection and guidance of his people going forward.

As they embark on a journey filled with sights, sounds, splendor, and danger, they meet all sorts of new characters along the way. From the lovable Baloo (Bill Murray), to the dangerous Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), their adventure is anything but boring especially with Shere Khan constantly lurking and new dangers and surprises around every corner.

Director Jon Favreau keeps the film in line with the source material and offers a lavish and fun production that while heavy on CGI imagery never overshadows the focus being on the characters as they are what propel the story even though the jungle itself very much is a central character to the story. There is action and adventure and parent should be warned that there are a few parts that may be a bit too intense for younger viewers. That being said, the film is just an absolute delight from beginning to end and moves at a brisk enough pace that never drags. There are a couple of musical numbers included which thankfully do not undermine some of the more action intense sequences of the film which had been ramped up considerably from their animated version counterparts.

There’s been talk that a sequel is early in the planning stages and I for one would definitely love to see more adventures especially since it’s reported that the same team that brought this to the screen would be involved in the sequel. The cast is incredibly strong and supports one another very well and what makes this film so great is that like many of the Disney classics it has the broad generational appeal that will allow adults to really enjoy the film rather than feel that they’re simply along to keep the kids happy.
Disney has announced that they would plan to do several live-action adaptations of their animated classics and based on their recent track record of success, in doing so I can’t wait to see what they have next as “The Jungle Book” is an absolute delight that is not to be missed.

4.5 stars out of 5.

Second Review By Sasha Glenn

When I heard that one of my all-time favorite childhood films, Disney’s animated “The Jungle Book,” was being made into a live action film, I was thrilled! At the same time I had my doubts and worries that the new film would not be able to do justice to the original story. But Director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Marks have managed to create what is quite possibly the best live action version of a Disney animation yet.
“The Jungle Book” takes modern day filmmaking capacity to the next level. The CGI is stunning, and not a bit overdone. The wide array of exotic animals appear very realistic, down to the very texture of their fur.
Staying true to the original story, the cast of characters is mostly made up of talking animals. Maintaining the authenticity of each creature, while at the same time making them talk, had a huge risk of coming off as hokey. But fortunately, even this aspect of the film was pulled off with expertise.
I was a bit hesitant at first about the film starring such well-known voices like Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, and Bill Murray; simply because recognizing an actor’s voice can sometimes take away from the animated character. But in execution, the choice of voice casting worked well and the much-loved characters remained mostly unchanged from the one’s they were based on.
Child actor Neel Sethi breaks onto the Hollywood film scene in his role as Mowgli. Sethi is absolutely incredible; falling perfectly into his role and navigating the challenges of working in a mostly CGI film with top notch agility.
The film is an action packed and heart wrenching survival tale, carrying with it the sentiment of man’s place within the natural world.
It may be a bit difficult for very young children to watch. The original animation had a lot of upbeat musical scenes, which balanced out the dramatic scenes. This version still has a bit of that, but it mostly consists of action and drama.
A truly beautiful story and an epic cinematic adventure, I give “The Jungle Book” 4.5 out of 5 stars.