Let’s Get Reel: The Jungle Book

 

 

Photo provided by: The Hollywood Reporter

Photo provided by: The Hollywood Reporter

Darick T. Earney
Associate Editor

Disney reimagines “The Jungle Book” with a fun, but underwhelming new live-action computer animated adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous novel, released April 15.

“The Jungle Book” is directed Jon Favreau and stars upcoming actor, Neel Sethi, alongside acting veterans Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, and many more.

The film tells the story of a little boy named Mowgli, who was brought up by a pack of wolves after an evil tiger named Shere Khan (Elba) murdered his parents.

On his quest for power, Khan reappears in Mowgli’s life, years later, only this time, to kill Mowgli and establish dominance and fear over the rest of the creatures in the jungle.

Mowgli, frightened of being captured, leaves his wolfpack family to venture across the jungle in order to escape Khan’s wrath, with the help of a courageous grizzly bear named Baloo (Murray) and a wise black panther named Bagheera (Kingsley).

Verdict: 2 Reels.

While the film offers some pristine special effects and several enjoyable moments from its star-studded cast, I felt that the overall narrative came up short.

At some points of the story, there are scenes where the movie goes out of its way to emulate the 1967 cartoon version of ‘the Jungle Book’ by inserting brief interpolations of songs like “Bare Necessities” and “I Want To Be Like You,” that weakened the experience for me.

The use of these songs felt like they may have been intended as easter eggs for old fans to catch onto, but overstayed their screen time long enough for them to rotten the story.

However, the visual effects and cinematography in this movie were just downright gorgeous. The digital hair follicles on members of the wolfpack are extremely life-like, and the camera’s eye captures some beautiful nature shots, helping the viewer feel right there with Mowgli on his adventure.

“The interesting thing about ‘the Jungle Book’ is that the remake is taking a drawn animation and turning it into the look of live cinema mostly through the use of computer technology,” Art of Film professor, Jim Price said.

Price continued saying: “The reason for a remake is to allow a new generation to re-interpret the past instilling its own concerns into the narrative. The new Jungle Book then is a way of renewing this story/myth/film within the framework of our societies obsession with the technological.”

Despite its flaws, in the end, ‘the Jungle Book’ does have moments of glory, and provides a new generation its own telling of the classic story, but I certainly wouldn’t consider it the best telling.

dearney@lc.edu