By Allie Rosen ’19
Although most remakes fall short of their predecessors, that cannot be said for Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book”.
The film’s all star cast includes Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Idris Elba as Sheere Khan, Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha, Scarlett Johanson as Kaa, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, Christopher Walken as King Louie and newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli.
The film is the story of Mowgli, a man-cub (human), who was abandoned in the jungle and discovered by Bagheera, a panther, who brings him to be raised by Raksha, a wolf, and the rest of her pack. The pack of wolves is led by the honorable and brave Akela. However the tiger Sheere Khan isn’t okay with a man-cub living in the jungle with all of the animals. In fact, he’s so not okay with it that vows to hunt down Mowgli. Mowgli must set out on a journey to the man village. On his way he meets a cast of dangerous and interesting characters like, Louie, Baloo, and Kaa.
Now you have probably heard that story countless amounts of times, seeing that this is the sixth movie adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s novel. However, after seeing this movie twice, I can say it is by far the best. I grew up with the original 1967 Disney animated film, and I’ll confess that my sole gripe with this movie is that it does not completely sing the songs from the original Disney movie.
This can easily be overlooked, though, because this movie blew all expectations out of the water. Favreau seamlessly blends real life and animation, creating another world. For the first time in movies, the CGI animals look better close up than they do far away.
Going into this movie, I thought the fact these animals talked would completely take me out of the realness of the world but that was by far not the case. The animals talk like people do. Their mouths move, but their mannerisms are exactly the same as they are in the wild, creating a feeling of believability in a council of talking wildlife. You can tell that the team involved with animating them spent countless amount of time studying how those animals move and act.
But the CGI is not the reason this movie is good. While I may have spent the first minutes of the movie with my jaw dropped staring at the visuals, once the story got moving I completely forgot I was watching a talking bear and a talking panther interact with this little kid. Favreau knows how to tell a good story and excels in his powerful character development. While the cast of this movie seems jam packed, you still managed to get a profound understanding of each character in the movie and their motivations. I found myself caring more about these animals than I did for the ones in the original animated movie. Mowgli was the strongest character, due in part to Neel Sethi’s performance. Although this is his first feature film, Sethi holds the entire story together with the bravery and compassion. You truly feel for his struggle with growing up and having to leave his family behind.
“The Jungle Book” is easily the best movie to come out so far in 2016 and it’s fun for everyone. It is a movie I will show to my kids when I’m a parent, and it is a movie that absolutely must be seen on the big screen. If you haven’t already, go see “The Jungle Book” as soon as humanly possible.