By Linley McCord
The beloved animated Disney movie (that was once famous in book form by Rudyard Kipling) about a boy raised by wolves in a jungle has been revamped to be a live action stunner. If you’re feeling nostalgic for the bare necessities, this new version of “The Jungle Book” will satisfy your every childhood whim.
A drought hits the jungle, and the food chain is disrupted because water trumps hunting. When the animals gather at the watering hole to call the seasonal truce, all are intimidated by tiger Shere Khan as he prowls the pond, making threats. After spotting the only human (“man-cub”), Mowgli, the man-cub raised by a pack of wolves, Shere Khan vows to kill him due to unfinished business with man. Mowgli is protected by the wolves he grew up with, but ultimately begins a journey to get out of the jungle to escape Shere Khan’s vindictive manhunt.
The cast of characters voicing all the animals (minus Mowgli, of course) is absolutely incredible. Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is flawless at being a “man-cub” who behaves like a nine-year-old boy in the midst of wolves, panthers, and bears. He’s innovative and caring and exceeds expectations in his role. The cast is star-studded from there out. Bill Murray is, obviously, fun-loving Baloo. Ben Kingsley slays his role of the father-figure panther Bagheera. Idris Elba is the formidable and evil Shere Khan, and Scarlett Johansson is the intoxicating snake Kaa. Christopher Walken is the power hungry King Louie and is perfect. To round it all out, Lupita Nyong’o is Raksha—Mowgli’s wolf mom. These stars breathe true life into the animals they voice and it enhances the film that much more.
The CGI is beautiful, oftentimes looking completely authentic. It’s mind blowing to think about how a young actor essentially talked to nothing when filming because all of his costars were product of a computer. Overall, the plot follows well with the Disney animated version, minus most of the songs. Really the only two that make it are “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You.” Additionally, this film is a little darker and has a few scenes that jump out at you.
It is definitely a must-see of the year, and deserves 8/10 stars.
Rated PG for some mild violence.