Rating: 4.5/5 Stars (Four and a half stars)
Star Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken
Director: Jon Favreau
What’s Good: Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book is visually immersive, coloured with nostalgia for most of us and a truly mesmerizing experience. It leaves you spellbound with its story, execution and most of all, Neel Sethi’s spot on act.
What’s Bad: You are left cringing for more! We wish Kaa’s character was given more screen time with a murkier representation.
Loo Break: Don’t even think about it!
Watch or Not?: Duh! You have to watch it. It is apt for kids, adults, hell I would say everyone who loves cinema, good writing and excellent CGI.
Mowgli (Neel Setthi) is a ‘man-cub’ as they call him in the jungle. He is raised by a pack of wolves as their own and even learns to recite the wolf pack pledge. He is being trained by the wise panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and is raised as their own child by wolves Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and his wife Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o).
While the rest of the animals have made their peace with the man-cub, it is Shere Khan (Idris Elba) – The Tiger who is unwilling to accept Mowgli. He seeks revenge for his past encounters with humans that have caused him danger through the red flower (Fire).
When Shere Khan declares his war on Mowgli post the monsoon, Bagheera decides to send the boy home (to a human-habituated town).
Whilst on their way to town, Shere Khan attacks. Bagheera puts a strong fight to help Mowgli escape who further ends up going deep into the forest where encounters the deadly Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and Gigantopithecus King Louie (Christopher Walken). Saving him from both of them, Mowgli finds himself a new friend Balooo – The Bear (Bill Murray).
With the help of his friends Baloo and Bagheera, will Mowgli escape Shere Khan and return home?
The Jungle Book Review: Script Analysis
Based on Rudyard Kipling’s famous book The Jungle Book, the film brings to life characters that have been etched in our minds since childhood.
Even though we hands down agree that the film is a visual marvel, don’t let screenwriter Justin Marks’ efforts go unnoticed. He is the man who crafts a near perfect screenplay of this Kipling gem and does full justice to it.
Right from weaving an emotional connect from Raksha and Mowgli’s point of view to a lazy, grizzly bear Baloo giving life lessons, Marks makes it look so easy on the eyes that for a non-reader, this is the best they can get.
Marks spends all his energies on changing the tone of the film from the point of Baloo’s arrival into the plot and that is where all the mischief and comedy for the kids flourish.
The screenplay is more like a coming-of-age plot that makes Mowgli the hero in the most subtle manner. Of course, it has an audience pleasing climax but isn’t that the case with dozen other Disney films that seem to be the preachers of ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’?
The clever addition of the enchanting tunes The Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You from the first Disney film are overwhelming to watch in this one.
The Jungle Book Review: Star Performance
Neel Sethi as Mowgli is a gem. He sprints laughs and even threatens Shere Khan full might. With his delightful performance, Sethi wins you over and instantly sucks you into his story from the word go.
When it comes to the dubbing, in spite of the shortest of the scenes, Scarlett Johansson’s seductive Kaa is unforgettable.
Ben Kingsley as Bagheera sounds perfectly righteous. His stern instructions to Mowgli are spot on.
Bill Murray as Baloo will be another favourite for all. The singing grizzly bear who gets his comic timing right. Murray is sure to tickle your funny bone!
Idris Elba successfully scares the hell out of you with his Shere Khan act. His evil laugh will give you goosebumps.
Lupita Nyong’o gives Raksha a brilliant emotional and motherly tone.
The Jungle Book Review: Direction, Music
Jon Favreau is going to be hailed by everyone for directing this experience of a film. Live action adventure never looked this stunning and every frame of The Jungle Book is like wandering into wilderness, heck you don’t even feel the 3D glasses on you.
Every little detail is crafted with such finesse that you can’t help but feel its realism. Each tree, the magnificent waterfalls, the trunks that Mowgli so effortlessly sprints on, all of it are so visually immersive that a title card at the end credits which says ‘Filmed in downtown Los Angeles’ shakes you up in your seat as to how advanced the technology today is. After Avatar, this film comes second best for creating a world with best visual effects.
Animals are rendered beautifully. Little scenes such as a frog wiping off his head as the raindrops fall on his body or the porcupine commenting on his quills hurting are simply clever.
Raksha and Mowgli’s goodbye scene is extremely emotional and definitely a tear-jerking moment in the film. Kaa’s sequence is trippy and slow but could have been made slightly scarier.
Favreau falters with the pace of the film slightly post Mowgli’s encounter with Kaa. One may even think that is his idea behind making the whole Mowgli-Baloo relationship come alive and well, it does.
Why Favreau excels with this film is mainly because beyond the digital craftsmanship that this film offers, he maintains a great balance with the story’s emotional connect, thus never losing focus of the fact that ultimately it is for the kids to sit back and enjoy the Kipling world.
John Debney’s score is lush and blends well with the 3D execution.
The Jungle Book Review: The Last Word
The Jungle Book is a film that has something for everyone. It defines the phrase ‘feels like coming home’. You have to watch, to believe it so don’t miss this one! I am going with a 4.5/5!
The Jungle Book Trailer
The Jungle Book releases on 8th April, 2016.
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