By Dominic Larsen, Assistant Editor
John Favreau (director of the first two Iron Man movies, The Wolf of Wall St., and Elf) has done it again by bringing Mowgli and his jungle friends onto the big screen. The film is an adaption of Rudyard Kipling’s book, but it relies heavily on the 1967 Disney film for inspiration. The creative team does an excellent job at retelling this age old story, while taking a fresh new spin and adding their own twist.
The cast for Jungle Book is legendary for the voice actors chosen; Mowgli’s two best friends, Bagheera and Baloo, played by Ben Kinglsey and Bill Murray respectively. The two actors, though never in the same room, seemed to bounce their dialogue off of each other and hilariously portray their characters. Shere Khan, the film’s villain, is voiced by actor Idris Elba. Scarlett Johansson was cast as Kaa, which surprised many because the character is traditionally male. “The movie is just a little male-oriented,” said Director John Favreau when he had Kaa written as a female. Christopher Walken steals the show with his performance of King Louie, the swinging king of the apes. They even modeled Louie’s movement off of Walken’s own mannerism. Most importantly, Mowgli was portrayed by Neel Sethi, who made his Hollywood debut in this film.
Orphaned as a young child and raised by wolves, Mowgli now faces his biggest challenge yet.The man-cub Mowgli must flees the jungle and return to life in man’s world after Shere Khan threatens his surrogate family. Bagheera leads him to the man village, only to be separated from the young boy. Mowgli ventures through the jungle by himself meeting an array of animals, most of whom do not have his best interest at heart. This presents Mowgli with the tough decision of living with other humans or fighting for the animals he grew up with.”
Disney has outdone themselves once again by retelling a classic story and entertaining crowds. The CGI graphics used are some of the best to date and truly elevate the movie to soaring heights. All the animals and most of the settings are created through computer imaging and pre-production photography. The cast, though not on screen, pour large amounts of emotion into their performance. Overall, viewers of all ages will enjoy the movie, as it touches upon the past with classic songs like “Bare Necessities” and combines it with talented actors, new age technology, and a wonderful sense of humor.