‘The Jungle Book’ Review

30 Apr

The_Jungle_Book_(2016)

Mowgli is every animal’s “man-cub” in this movie.

Disney has managed to bring to life one of its 1960s classics through this live-action adaptation. They literally brought it to life. While this movie is clearly more exciting than the original animated film, it still keeps the charm of the original.

Maybe the credit should be given to Jon Favreau, who honestly should be doing all the adaptations from now on. He knows how to take a classic and turn it into a masterpiece on-screen.

The Indian Express summed this up perfectly:

“Iron Man” fame director Jon Favreau took a basic structure of Rudyard Kipling’s timeless classic and charged it up with the power of the 1967 animation film to bring forth an advanced version of the story backed with technology. – See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/hollywood/the-jungle-book-crosses-rs-150-crore-mark-in-india-2774305/#sthash.BwPEiVOZ.dpuf

The story keeps pretty true to the original story and has just a few differences from the Disney animated film. In fact, much of the changes are BETTER executed than its animated predecessor. The biggest difference is the end…which I feel is both bitter and sweet. They kept what made Mowgli special in the story and took out what would destroy Mowgli’s identity…

We’ve all heard a story like this. It’s not the most original story in the world. If you’ve seen Tarzan or other movies like it (Avatar would be a close second), you could kind of guess that a young boy, who is associated with “man”, would be misunderstood among his family of animals. You could also guess that the boy is going to show more ingenuity and innovation than his animal friends, further emphasizing human “superiority”.

But what makes this story distinct is that Mowgli is the only developed human character in the story. The story also focused mostly on the jungle and the animals. Considering that the original story was created in the 1800s, we can’t expect the adaptation to be “original” in its story-telling. Too much originality would deviate from the plot, making it choppy. It would take away the story’s charm.

Jon, Brigham Taylor, and Justin Marks did the right thing by keeping the story simple but engaging. It was exciting, it was emotional, it had humor. It was structured in a simple, predictable manner, but with a few surprises here and there. For a child, this movie was probably more advanced than anything directed to kids nowadays.

Disney also did the right thing by choosing an actual Indian American boy, Neel Sethi, to play the lead role. This is something other directors should learn from…Honestly, authenticity is what people are looking for now. Controversy follows movies that aren’t “racially authentic”. Disney is usually so successful because they always have their hands on the pulse of the public. Somehow, they manage to be one step ahead of the trends. That’s partially what lead to this movie’s success. Indian movie-goers devoured this movie

The characters are mostly animals anyway, so that eliminates “racial” drama. The CGI graphics turned cartoonish characters into real-looking ferocious animals. I felt like I was watching a documentary, only there was a fictional story involved. Still, the animals had personality and humor. It had humor without trying too hard and it was serious when it needed to be. This was simple story-telling at its finest.

Possibly the best part of the movie was the CGI graphics. The setting brought viewers into the jungle and made us feel like we were traveling with Mowgli on his journey. The animals had “presence” in the film.

Oh, and did anyone tell you this was a musical? Yea, as random as I added it in this article is as surprised as I was to hear familiar songs from the animated movie. It wasn’t like there was a song in every scene, but there were two popular Jungle Book songs in the film. I didn’t expect to hear “Bear Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You” in this film. “Trust in Me” showed up somewhere in the ending credits. Quite frankly, hearing huge, scary animals sing the songs was awkward and creepy (the CGI took away the cartoonish feeling). Yet, I was delighted to actually hear the familiar tunes.

Overall this movie is a really good movie to watch with your family. People who are looking for simple, charming story-telling and just a moment to lose touch with reality will really enjoy the movie as well. There is a hint of imagination and Disney magic in the story.

It’s not the most original story, but it’s still an engaging tale.

I give it a 9/10.

I recommend this movie for families.

If you like this movie, I recommend Disney’s other CGI-animated movie Dinosaur.

SPOILER ALERT: Disney can add this movie’s villain to their famous trope: Disney Villain Demise

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