Take a step inside the world of Mowgli and his animal friends once again because Disney will be telling you the story of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” for the 2nd time – just a little more intense and thrilling than we remembered it to be.
The live-adaption of “The Jungle Book” tells the story of an orphaned man-cub who’s raised by a family of wolves since infancy named Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi). When Mowgli finds out he is seen as a threat by the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, he embarks on a journey of self discovery, guided by stern panther Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley), and free-spirited bear Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray).
On his way to the man-village, he meets seductively dangerous python Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and persuasive King Louie (voiced by Christopher Walken).
First, let’s talk about Mowgli. Neel Sethi was hand-picked by director Jon Favreau (from “Iron Man 2”) out of 2,000 hopefuls who auditioned for the role of the man-cub. “The Jungle Book” marks the first time the 12-year-old New-Yorker acted in front of camera professionally. Way to kick start his acting career, don’t you think?
Considering that this is a CGI-heavy movie and that he is the only human actor in the studio, Neel portrayed Mowgli quite impressively. Despite his face being too clean for some scenes, another thing to note is Neel’s swift and smooth movements in the “jungle”. From running away from harm to climbing down a mountain to get honey, he gave a great performance.
Think mini-Tarzan, but with more attitude and wit.
Though the live-action adaption of “The Jungle Book” is somewhat similar to the 1967 animated version in some ways, for instance, having Bagheera as the story’s narrator and reprising 2 of Disney’s classic songs, “Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You”, do not expect to watch your childhood movie the same way.
Without giving away too many spoilers (even though Disney already did that for us), the film starts off with a little excitement, showing Mowgli training with his wolf-brothers by trying to outrun Bagheera.
A wolf makes a pack, and the pack makes the wolf. That is the wolf way.
We like how this adaption shows more emphasis on the wolf pack, Mowgli’s relationship with his wolf-family and Mowgli striving to learn the wolf ways.
We have to be honest, the CGI animals and jungle in the film are amazingly realistic. From the details of their fur to the way they walk and run, it’s hard to believe that Neel was acting alone against the green screen. Cinematographer Bill Pope (from “The Matrix”) did an amazing job in showing the best of the jungle.
Talking animals is no new concept in the movie industry, but the conversational creatures are actually convincing. The expressions of the animals and the casts’ voice performance are nicely done.
Although at some point, you may be asking, “Isn’t it just a tad bit weird to have a tiger with an English accent in an Indian jungle?” Just saying.
The story moves on with Mowgli leaving the pack voluntarily to ensure their safety and his escape from Shere Khan. Then, the moment we’ve all been waiting for arrives – Mowgli meets Kaa. By now, you would know that Kaa plays a big part to the truth behind Mowgli’s origins. Although Kaa only appears for a mere 5 minutes or so (really Disney?), we can see why it is the most marketed scene.
Except Raksha, Kaa is the 2nd (and last) female character in the movie and it’s good to see an extra feminine touch to the male-oriented cast. Scarlett Johansson once again proved that her voice over skills are top notch! The camera focused on the python’s face as she tries to hypnotise Mowgli, and he wasn’t the only one mesmerised by her trippy eyes.
The most light-hearted part of the movie is when Mowgli meets Baloo. It’s nice to see Mowgli’s child-like behaviours when he is inventing new tools and spending time with his big bear friend.
Thanks to John Debney, we got to listen to a revised version of “Bare Necessities” and a rewritten “I Wanna Be Like You”, though the latter is quite unnecessary. If you are not making a musical, it doesn’t make sense for King Louie to suddenly sing.
“The Jungle Book” did a good job in ensuring that every detail of the story is smoothly presented in the film. Personally, we think that this film concluded on a more satisfying note, compared to its animated counterpart. Don’t worry, we won’t spoil the ending for you. You have to watch it yourself to find out!
Check out the official images of the cast that Disney released recently:
The suspense in this movie is not very children-friendly, but adults will find watching this movie exciting and thrilling. Aren’t you excited to watch “The Jungle Book” now? Get ready to book your tickets because the film will hit the big screen on 7th April 2016!