The Jungle Book (2016): The Legend Will Never Be the Same

Posted: May 14, 2016 in Adventure, Drama, Family
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Having been abandoned as a child, Mowgli was found by a panther named Bagheera and left to be raised by the wolves. Old enough to learn the ways of the wolves, Mowgli struggled to stay with the pack, but he also attracted the attention of the tiger, Shere Khan. With the jungle tiger seeking to kill the human child, Mowgli decides to leave the wolves and go off on his own path. An attack from Shere Khan splits Mowgli off away from Bagheera, leaving Mowgli to fend for himself. The dangers of the jungle are all around him, as he has to face off against the dangers of snakes, monkeys, and bears.

Impressive Performance from Young Talent: Neel Sethi stars as Mowgli in this adaptation of the original story. Considering that he is the only human character featured and with dialogue, it is impressive to watch his performance. There are a small group of humans seen midway through the film, but they are in the distance and appear more as shadows in contrast to the bonfire they surround. Neel’s performance was essentially created amongst a bunch of puppets and people in costumes to eventually get converted into CGI. This is likely the start to an impressive young career.

Not Your Child’s Jungle Book Story: In comparison to the Disney cartoon, this film takes a significantly more serious tone. Shere Khan was on the hunt for Mowgli to capture and kill the only human in the jungle and to enact revenge for Mowgli’s father scarring Khan’s face. The Water Truce provided safety from predator-prey relationships, but the fear of Khan’s brutality allowed him to still pursue her vengeance regardless of who he manipulated or harmed. King Louie also was not quite the fun-loving, singing king of the monkeys. Not getting his way meant danger for Mowgli and his friends.

Balance Tone w/ Music: While the film took a more serious tone, Disney was able to find a way to infuse a couple of the musical interludes to lighten the mood. Ball was certainly an option to toss in Bear Necessities. Since he was voiced by Bill Murray, there was a comical tone to his character clear from the introduction. While floating down the river, it was the perfect time to break into song. For King Louie, Christopher Walken’s voice was a bit odd for the giant orangutan, and his version of the song was less flowing than the original. Instead, his version had a more sinister tone. Scarlett Johannson also provided her own rendition of Trust in Me.

Final Verdict: This is not a Disney films for little kids. The darker tone and mildly violent themes make this a story for a slightly more mature audience. Still, the characters are very memorable and the storytelling is on-point.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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