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Film Review: ‘The Jungle Book’ is an enchanting revision of a classic tale

Rating: A

No one’s ever been concerned with Walt Disney Pictures’ ability to turn out a great film, even if it’s a retelling of a classic children’s story such as “The Jungle Book.” First published by Rudyard Kipling as an eponymous collection of novels in 1894, and then adapted to the 1967 animated musical comedy film of the same name, “The Jungle Book” has been a tale that has consistently resisted the tests of time. Now with this newest live-action feature, which incorporates the latest in computer-generated imagery technology, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) and his pals revisit a classic adventure and prepare themselves to take on an unforgotten foe.

At the beginning of Mowgli’s experiences, especially the ones that detail his life as a “man-cub” living in a wolf pack, the presentation of the events that unfold seems remarkably documentarian, like something you would find in David Attenborough’s “Planet Earth” television series. As events continue, however, even children coddling buckets of popcorn can see not everything is right in the jungle. But what occurs in the story is nothing compared to the impressive animation used to create lifelike creatures such as wolves, squirrels and mice. Even more impressive was the detail given to major characters such as the fun-loving bear Baloo (Bill Murray), the intimidating black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba).

The message of the story was unanticipated. Writers decided to be advocates for animals and how humans can be a danger to them. There was even an implied message about the dangers of fire, or the “red flower” as it was referred to in the film. But political as it may seem, it’s all for a good cause; a wonderful mix of fun for the children and a level of sophistication and meaningfulness for adults.

In fact, this movie seems more tailored for adults rather than children. This is done by the seemingly political messaging and advocacy for nature, along with imagery that is so lifelike that a child may be easily consider the animals to be real. After a few minutes of watching, an adult might get lost in the story and completely forget the fact that most of what they’re watching is animated. Seriously, it’s that breathtaking.

Just like the 1967 animated film, Baloo, Mowgli, the ‘Gigantopithecus’ orangutan King Louie (Christopher Walken) and the giant snake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) all break out in their respective songs. Spoilers aside, one of the most notable songs was Baloo and Mowgli’s rendition of “The Bare Necessities,” which is just as good as the original version despite its short length. Don’t worry, on the soundtrack, you’ll be able to hear the full essence of Bill Murray’s melodious voice.

“The Jungle Book” continues to be a cultural icon for children and adults alike. The incredibly advanced computer-generated imagery technology and subtle messages about humanity’s relationship with the wilderness would make Kipling proud of what his work has evolved into. Additionally, if there is any testament to the true wonders of the jungle, it is definitely Mowgli’s famous tale of perseverance and family.


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