By Ivan Mateo
In light of Hollywood’s constant insistence of creating reboots/remakes, Disney decided to recreate a live action, CGI reimagining of the “The Jungle Book.” The original animated film released way back in 1967. Nearly 40 years have passed since then! Jon Favreau, director of “Iron Man” helms this version of “The Jungle Book.”
The voice actors and actresses shine from top to bottom. The person in charge of casting hit the spot with his or her choices.
The narrative of “The Jungle Book” follows the same story as the original movie. A little boy becomes orphaned at a young age due to a tiger killing his father. Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), a black panther, finds and saves the orphan named Mowgli (Neel Sethi). Bagheera places him in the care of a wolf mother, Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o). Akela (Giancarlo Esposito), the leader of the wolf pack protects his pack along with the little Mowgli. Raksha considers Mowgli one of her own pups, despite him being a man-cub.
Mowgli’s presence among the other jungle inhabitants leads to confusion and strife. Shere Khan (Idris Elba) hates Mowgli for being a human and tries to command the animals to relinquish the boy to him. Elba does a great job of striking fear into the hearts of all the animal inhabitants and the audience watching. He has a ferocious, commanding voice ideal for a majestic Bengal tiger. All the animals fear him, so when he speaks, everyone stops and listens.
The inquisitive, adventurous Mowgli makes the decision to leave the wolf clan behind because he does not want the clan to be in any danger. For someone so young, he understands the responsibility of his choices. This sends him on a journey, interacting with many different animals in the jungle. During each encounter, animals take advantage of Mowgli’s curious and gullible nature, which Sethi plays off quite well.
There was no one more perfect to cast for the voice of the lovable bear, Baloo, other than the one and only Bill Murray. It reminds me of when Robert Downey Jr. took on the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man and perfectly encapsulated him. Baloo, a carefree sloth bear, saves Mowgli from Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), an enormous Indian python. She tries to charm Mowgli with her snake-like trickery, and her voice comes off as equally soothing and creepy. In true Murray fashion, there are a lot of funny, quick one-liners.
All these animals trying to take advantage of Mowgli takes a toll on him. When Mowgli firmly stands up for himself, the animals realize the ability and creativity he possesses.
The incorporation of original songs was unexpectedly good! In “The Bare Necessities” Baloo and Mowgli capture the essence of the original rendition of the song. “I Wanna Be Like You,” another fan favorite, was performed by King Louie and felt a little weird.
“The Jungle Book” reimagines and retells the story of Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves growing into his own as he interacts with different animals. If Disney can continue to remake movies successfully, then by all means, please continue.
“The Jungle Book” is rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril.
“The Jungle Book” is playing in theaters now.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
‘The Jungle Book’
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