Look for the bare necessities ♪
The simple bare necessities ♪
Forget about your worries and your strife ♪
I mean the bar—ahem, well you know how it goes. Don’t lie.
The Jungle Book?
Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a human child who could barely walk when he was found in the jungle by the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). Instead of gobbling him up as a midnight snack, Bagheera brought Mowgli to the wolves so they could raise him as their own. But the interspecies friendship wasn’t built to last. When the scarred and villainous tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) returns and demands the man cub’s life, young Mowgli is forced to flee the jungle in search of his own kind, meeting all sorts of colorful characters along the way.
The Jungle Book is probably, and I say this with caution, one of the best blockbusters of the year, already. Now, I know the summer season has barely —heheh— started, not to mention the winter releases, but it’s just that good.
Let’s start with the obvious, the visuals are simply
stunning brilliant out of this world. The trees, the water, the animals and their little tics, everything looks deceptively real. Disturbing almost, if you know the entire movie was shot in a warehouse in LA. The Jungle Book’s hyper-realistic look will keep you immersed from start to finish in a way that hasn’t been done by any CGI movie since Avatar. I have said it before and I will say it again, I smell a VFX oscar right around the corner.
Of course you need the voice to match the looks, you wouldn’t want to date a hot girl who sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger, right? Wait, don’t answer that. Anyway, the cast is phenomenal. The best voices Hollywood has to offer, sets these, already impressive, CGI animals light-years ahead of the competition. Ben Kingsley is how I imagine my conscience would sound like; Bill Murray sounds like the guy everyone wants to be friends with; Christopher Walken is…well, Christopher Walken, he could be advertising diet cheeseburgers and I would still buy them; Scarlett Johansson makes you rethink bestiality and Idris Elba…Oh god, Idris Elba is killing it as Shere Khan. Every scene he is in, is filled with an intimidating presence and overwhelming pressure that we have yet to experience with any Marvel villain. And, last but not least, Neel Sethi as Mowgli is a friggin’ revelation. At an age when all I could think about was what’s in my pants, this kid gives a believable 90-minute performance, even though he is actually talking to some tennis balls in front of a green screen.
Re-imagining a popular classic like this is never easy, there will always be nostalgia purists who crucify you for everything you change and avant-garde hipsters who do the same for everything you don’t change. Disney seems to balance in between. By using the photo-realistic look as they did, ‘The Jungle Book’ was reinvented by default. But story-wise it’s a Disney-safe approach that will reach all ages. Though I have to admit, the movie is smarter —and scarier— than the average seven-year-old usually gets to see on the big screen. Bring diapers, parents…and bring something for your kids too.
My only gripe is with one particular, and iconic, scene which involves a singing King Louie. Contrary to the greatness that was Baloo’s song, this one felt a little bit out of place, slightly cringe-worthy even. Christopher Walken as the monkey overlord is still absolute bliss obviously, but I have to nitpick about something, right?
Disney shows us once again why they are king. The Jungle Book is an action-packed family adventure that doesn’t treat kids like brainless plants. State-of-the-art CGI and voices like butter will keep you glued to your seats. And by the time you get home, you will have tried to communicate with every bird, dog and cockroach you saw. Because animals do talk, Disney taught me so.
The Jungle Book is the movie equivalent of a:
Finally one that you like spending time with on a regular basis. Tell your friends about it, meet its prequels and maybe hope for sequels at some point.
Suitable for: Anyone who read the intro in a singing voice. Everyone who has an imagination.
Not suitable for: Anyone else.
Director/Producer: Jon Favreau
Stars: Neel Sethi, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, …
Duration: 106 minutes