Friday, April 15, 2016

Movie Review - The Jungle Book


Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, and more.
Directed by: Jon Favreau Screenplay by: Justin Marks Based on the Novels by: Rudyard Kipling Cinematography by: Bill Pope Music by: John Debney
Premise: When the tiger, Shere Khan, finds out the wolves are protecting Mowgli, a man cub, he gives an ultimatum - give him the child to kill or he will kill other jungle denizens until his will is met. Trying to protect his jungle family, Mowbli leaves with his protector, the panther named Bagheera, who plans to take the boy to a man village where he can be safe from Shere Khan. The ruthless tiger, however, has other plans. (Rated PG)
Review:
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The film has a lot of well known actors doing the voices for the animals. All the choices fit quite well. Scarlett Johansson was fabulous as Kaa - she gave the boa constrictor just the right amounts of sexy-scary. Lovely voice during her song as well. 
Bill Murray was a great choice for Baloo - he created a lovely impish tone for the character. :) Another fun matchup was Christopher Walken as King Louie - especially when he breaks out in song! lol. Lovely performance. 
2) Special Effects/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: The Disney-Pixar team did a great job on the look and feel of the film. The jungle and its different areas felt real and so did the animals. The creatures moved as their real counterparts would and even made their mouth movements look quite natural. Mowgli, the only real person in the film, was seamlessly woven into tapestry created for us with the CGI animation. Nice work!
While some of the animals represented were from familiar species, the animators also brought in many unfamiliar ones as well. Watching the movements and habits of those new species proved quite fascinating!
I totally loved what they did for Kaa and King Louie. Kaa was mesmerizing and the animators came up a lovely way to emulate and make sinister the snake's hypnotic gaze. Loved how they then took it and swirled the reality of the red flower to show the audience a glimpse into Mowgli's past. King Louie was huge! The detail on the orangutan was amazing. And wait till you see him move!
There's a nice bit of fun during the closing credits. (And more Christopher Walker singing! lol.)
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: It's been a very long time since I've seen the Disney's original animated version of the Jungle Book. I don't believe I ever read the series the film is based on - so definitely can't add any opinions from that angle. But for those who grew up with the 1967 animated version, I think you'll be quite pleased - especially as they actually redid several of the songs from the original. 
The film starts you out with action to try to create a sense of urgency but since the audience doesn't yet know any of the characters, it didn't seem to come across exactly as intended. No real surprises in the beginning part of the film and despite several tense or dangerous situations, the film didn't really take off for me until we meet Kaa. Totally adored the whole scene in that part of the jungle. And then matters picked up again once Baloo comes on the scene. 
Multiple themes play during the film - family, belonging, being accepted for who you are (or despite what you are), the fact that despite each others's differences some of them can also be strengths. 
My only true complaint was the typical superfast return effect sometimes used in plots. Though it took days to get to where Mowgli ended up (and the fact he got there on ox back and river speed travel), when the time comes form him to come back - he made it in super record time. The something he decided to take along back with him, wouldn't have lasted that long a trek. You'll see. Still, overall it, the point is easy to overlook. The film was definitely enjoyable.
Conclusion: If you're a fan of the old animated film, you'll find plenty to like and lots to feel nostalgic about. (Bear necessities will follow you home!) Yes, they bring back several of the songs! For those who've never seen it, though, you're in for a neat treat!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)
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