|THE JUNGLE BOOK (director: Jon Favreau; screenwriters: Justin Marks/from Rudyard Kipling; cinematographer: Bill Pope; editor: Mark Livolski; music: John Debney; cast: Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Bill Murray (Baloo-voice), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera-voice), Idris Elba (Shere Kan-voice), Lupita Nyong'o (Raksha-voice), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa-voice), Giancarlo Esposito (Akela-voice), Christopher Walken (King Louie-voice), Garry Shandling (Ikki-voice), Brighton Rose (Gray-voice); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Jon Favreau/Brigham Taylor; Walt Disney Pictures; 2016-in 3D)|
live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's
The Jungle Book (1894) is upbeat, tasteful and
by Dennis Schwartz
Fine family fare. It updates with
cutting-edge technology the 1967 Disney cartoon.
This Disney live-action adaptation of Rudyard
Kipling's The Jungle Book (1984) is upbeat, tasteful
and well-crafted. Helmer Jon Favreau ("Cowboys
& Aliens"/"Dinner for Five"/"Elf") dishes out a
visual treat by creating a magical jungle in India
with dazzling CGI visual-effects. The good vs. evil,
life and death story, as written by Justin Marks keeps
things grounded as an exciting but conventional
man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi, New York child
actor), an orphaned Indian boy, is rescued as a
baby in the jungle by the panther Bagheera (Ben
Kingsley), his protector, after his hunter
father is killed by the enraged tiger called Shere
Khan (Idris Elba-voice). Mowgli is
raised by the wolf family of he-wolf Akela (Giancarlo
Esposito-voice) and she-wolf Rakssha (Lupita
Nyong'o-voice). We follow Mowgli's jungle
adventures when he's ten-year's old and the evil Shere
Khan threatens the wolf pack if they don't turn the he
man-cub over to him for dinner he will harm them.
Thereby the kid, on the request of his protector,
returns to live with own kind. On the way home through
the jungle he's befriended by the comical bear named
Baloo (Bill Murray-voice), meets the charming snake
Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), and is
threatened by the grotesque gigantic King Louie (Christopher
Walken -voice), leader of the fierce monkeys.
King Louie channels Louis Prima.
Sethi as the only live actor and the one asked to
carry the picture, does a good job.
Some might be disappointed that the Disney people didn't take a more environmentally hip stance, such as note that the Bengal tiger is an endangered species. But if it's only a lighthearted jungle film you are looking for, without references to Kipling's pro-colonial views or other controversial environmental issues, this one is overwhelmingly charming.
REVIEWED ON 4/16/2016 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ