Now this is the Law of the Jungle —
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
-Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
I was invited to a special screening of Disney’s newest movie, The Jungle Book. From the original announcement, I was hesitant about being excited. There are so many versions of The Jungle Book available, including a Disney live-action version from 1994. I am a fan of the original, animated version, as it has just enough of everything: action, adventure, fun, and comedy. And then I read the list of voice actors and immediately I started to pay more attention to this. Seriously, how can you go wrong with Bill Murray and Christopher Walken?
My normal movie-going buddy/critic, NDK, decided that this movie was way too intense to see. She is not a fan of intense at all. It was a wise decision for her to see Zootopia with her older sisters instead, as this movie kept you on the edge of your seat from the beginning!
The movie opens with Mowgli (Neel Sethi) running away from something. It’s fast and intense. You immediately know that his run is of importance. The details of Mowgli running through the trees is very realistic and in quite a few instances, you will forget that most of this movie was created with CGI. Sethi protrays a very realistic pre-teen boy who questions *everything*. He is smart and wants to do things his own way – which, much to the dismay of his “mother” Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) and his mentor, Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), is not the “way of the wolves.”
Mowgli’s journey to return to the man village allows him to encounter familiar characters: Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), Baloo (Bill Murray), and King Louie (Christopher Walken). Familiar tunes can be heard through the jungle, so you can sing along. Let’s be honest – Shere Kahn (Idris Elba) was always a scary figure. But in CGI, he is downright evil! The intensity that accompanies his scenes is also scary.
The movie vaguely follows a timeline of the animated version. While different perspectives and detail were added, it flowed as you know the story. One interesting detail was director Jon Favreau’s decision to reassign King Louie from an orangutan to a Gigantopithecus. Orangutans are not native to India. In wanting to keep authentication, filmmakers found an extinct relative, the Gigantopithecus. The Law of the Jungle is quoted often in the film, as it is the code of the wolves. The movie follows this code and truly shows how “the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.” I left this film feeling great, as in no “real feels” other than feeling good. I was excited. I was on edge. I was mad. I was happy.
I see this film appealing to the older kid/teen/adult crowd. The action and drama is a step higher than normal. As an adult, I fully appreciated and enjoyed this movie. As a mom of an 8 year old who just isn’t into that much action, I would not have her see it. I just know she wouldn’t like it. For older fans of The Jungle Book who want more than “picking the prickly pear by the paw,” this is the version you have been waiting for! I highly recommend you see The Jungle Book in theaters. The 3D effect was superb and really brings you into the film. Be sure to stay for the beginning of the credits! Disney creativity always amazes me.