Genre: [Children] Adventure
Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Giancarlo Esposito (Akela), Christopher Walken (King Louei)
Written by: Justin Marks
You have kids? Go and watch The Jungle Book. You don’t have kids? Go and watch The Jungle Book!
I mean, no matter what age you are, who you are, what you do…bla…bla…bla… Just watch the movie and be merry. Yeah, the movie is going to make you feel better and happy(ier)!
“Jungle jungle baat chali hai, Pata chala hai… Are chaddi pahenke phool khila hai, Phool khila hai”.
Most of us have grown up singing the Mowgli Anthem and learning it by heart! I still remember how much we used to wait for Sundays to come, so that we could watch our beloved protagonist Mowgli on TV and go on the adventure of the lifetime with him. We have grown up being the best buddies to Mowgli, Bagheera, and Baloo… Wow! We had the best childhood!
Anyway, The Jungle Book of 2016 not only takes you on a roller coaster ride with Mowgli, but also reminds you of Ducktales [I so much miss Balooooo…], Kingkong, Life of Pi, and The Lion King [I remember when my friend and I used to call each other Timon and Pumbaa—I was thinner and she was fatter :)].
Yeah, I have to share my review and not talk about myself, but then didn’t I tell you that I won’t talk of the story in my movie reviews?! And, what would be the sense in telling the same story again?! I only will share how I, or anybody else in the theatre, felt.
Three words for the review in short: We felt fantastic!
The incredible computer generated graphics, some great actors voicing over the animated characters flawlessly, and an extraordinary child actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli… What else would you need for making a timeless favourite of all across the world?!
The movie begins with Mowgli (Neel Sethi) competing with his adoptive wolf brothers and trying his best to make his mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) believe that he can be like the pack and ends with Mowgli realising eventually that he is not a wolf, but a human-cub, who can fight Shere Khan (Idris Elba) only like a man.
It is the story of a young human-cub, who is been asked to leave his jungle, his home forever and live in a man’s village with other humans who know how to create red flowers. It is a story of the young bewildered lad who on his way to the man’s village encounters venomous foes like Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and devoted friends like Baloo (Bill Murray).
The Jungle Book is certainly a story of the once-lost-in-a-jungle-and-found-by-a-panther human-cub, who initially is unsure of how he was found and brought up by his dearest [non-biological] mother Raksha (Lupita Nyong’O) and the leader of the wolf pack Akela (Giancarlo Esposito); who is originally dubious of why Shere Khan wants him dead once and for all. It is the story of the bright, special kid, who eventually comes to know the truth and realises his manly potential and wins over the evil…the man’s way, with the help of his dearest family and friends.
The story written by Rudyard Kipling in 1894 is a story as charming as ever and the movie is as imaginative, as grand, as it was expected to be from a Director Jon Favreau who gave us movies like Iron Man and The Avengers. However, this 2016 version of the movie is a bit blacker, a bit more violent than any other adaptation of the collection of stories.
The action sequences between the King Louei (Christopher Walken) and Mowgli and that between the Shere Khan and Mowgli are captivating, thrilling [you may jump off your seats or would stop slouching]. It is only when the Mowgli meets Baloo and they spend time together collecting honeys to help the bear hibernate in winters, the movie becomes a little lighter, quirkier.
Voice over artists that involve the long list of eminent actors have done an amazing job, though I felt if Idris Elba could perform a bit better . He was as ferocious and vehement as the wounded tiger could be, but anyhow, when I compare him to our Nana Patekar Shere Khan, I was dissatisfied (probably because we have been used to listening Nana Patekar’s resonant sound). Scarlett Johansson is simply perfect with her seductive, sensuous Sss… when attempting to kill Mowgli and Lupita Nyong’O is warm, compassionate for his adoptive son. Bill Murray is quainter and Ben Kingsley is as usual stern. Christopher Walken? He is manipulative and truly outrageous Gigantopithecus!
The computer generated graphics are visually stunning and meticulously real—from the Seeonee jungles of British India to the animated characters to the accommodating Water Truce to the mankind’s red flowers to the Gigantopithecus are enchanting. The director’s grand imagination didn’t miss even the minutest of the details! Even the expressions on the face of furry animals were so immaculately captured.
The best, however, about the movie is the newest wrinkle’s performance. Yeah, the bright-eyed and charismatic -smiled Neel Sethi undoubtedly beholds your hearts with his implausible, action-packed, acting skills. At the age of ten or eleven, when he doesn’t even know who he is acting with or delivering his dialogues to [it would have been only the green or blue curtains around], the only human in the movie gave his best to his debut. Kudos to him [shouldn’t I mention that make your kids watch this flick]!!
All in all, with some minor flaws like a slow, stooping beginning and the interrupting song sequence (the song I Wanna Be Like You sung or, to be precise, rhymed by Christopher Walken is not as impressionable), the movie is definitely a GO-WATCH-IT!
Rudyard Kipling must be happy to watch it too! Unlike Abhishek Kapoor who made a deceiving attempt to adapt Charles Dickens’ masterpiece into Fitoor, Jon Favreau has done a terrific job.