The Jungle Book (2016)

Neel Sethi as Mowgli
Ben Kingsley as Bagheera (black leopard)
Bill Murray as Baloo (bear)
Idris Elba as Shere Khan (tiger)
Giancarlo Esposito as Akela (wolf)
Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha (wolf)
Christopher Walken as King Louie (orangutang)
Garry Shandling as Grey Brother (wolf)
Scarlett Johansson as Kaa (python)
Ritesh Rajan as Mowgli’s father

I was a fan of Disney movies as a child. Haven’t seen any in a long time, though. When Disney decided to remake The Jungle Book, I ignored it. But after the rave reviews for it (and the new Beauty and the Beast), I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did. While the original wasn’t one of my favorites growing up, I must say that this is a brilliant new take on the old story.

Fear the “red flower!”

The story is that in what seems to be ancient times, a human named Mowgli is lost as a baby and raised to childhood by wolves. All goes well until Shere Khan, mightiest of tigers, finds out about him and, fearing that he will grow up to be a hunter, threatens to kill his adoptive family if he is not turned over to Khan. Instead, family friend Bagheera attempts to take Mowgli to his village of birth. But Mowgli doesn’t want to leave the Jungle he’s come to know as home. He meets a carefree, fun-loving bear named Baloo who encourages his defiance. Not that any of this matters to Khan, who makes it clear that he is not flexible on Mowgli’s death.

Voice-overs are excellent! Names like Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson can be found. For the most part, everybody tries to imitate the voices of the original, and finds great success there. The exception is that Bill Murray is not nearly as energetic as Phil Harris (and Ed Gilbert in the later TV series, Talespin), had ever been. This version capitalizes on more Baloo’s laziness than his partying.

Big blue Baloo looks like a real bear. Odd. more realistic, but odd.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, that Hollywood can’t impress you anymore… I was sure that real animals couldn’t have the mouth movement for talking that the ones in this movie do, but I wasn’t sure. That’s how realistic the CGI in The Jungle Book looks! Incredi-f*cking-ble!

It’s a wonder that CGI hasn’t rendered traditional action movies obsolete, but those Fast & Furious movies keep cleaning up at the box office. At any rate, the action sequences with CGI animals are very exciting and believable.

There really isn’t much to criticize, quite honestly. I do wonder why, since this movie’s King Louie is so big, he needs fire to take over the jungle, but that’s nit-picky stuff. Besides, it’s a children’s movie. Gotta be a little lenient.

Hail to the Chimp!

No, this new version of The Jungle Book is pretty much a classic. Even an adult can enjoy it.

Overall: 9 out of 10


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