THE JUNGLE BOOK
Film Review by Fiore
“Look for the bear necessities, the simple bear necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife.” So sings Baloo the bear (hence the play on words) and his outlook on life. It is fitting the character is voiced by Bill Murray, because it’s the same mien most of his roles personify. Helping Murray in characterizations for this version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic are: Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Scarlette Johansson, Idris Elba, Gary Shandling, Giancarlo Esposito and Lupita Nyong’o. Together, they create live version of the animals most of us came to know and love through the wonderful animators of Disney, back in the day, before the studio became a progenitor of socialist ideology.
Actually, to call this version of THE JUNGLE BOOK live is a total misnomer. The entire film, including backgrounds, is CGI. The only live person is new young star Neel Sethi. It’s his first movie, and it shows. He is the weak link in the film and is over shadowed by voiced-over collections of dots.
To emphasize, this is not a kid’s movie. Anyone expecting the same primary-color based screen flashes as the Disney cartoon will be sorely mistaken. While the theatre was filled with wee tykes, it was relatively soon the auditorium became boisterous with the cries and grumblings of bored little minds. If your kids are under eleven , rent the cartoon and save the ticket price.
1. The meeting with Kaa
2. Baloo and the honey
3. I want to be like you
It, admittedly, has been years since I last read Kipling’s opus, so while my memory may be faulty, I do remember the book being allegorical, with the animals Mowgli meets representative of personality types; much like George Orwell did in Animal Farm. This script, adapted by Justin Marks, shifts the fantasy story of a young man’s development and transition to manhood to the difference between man and nature. While not preachy, and certainly not as propaganda-filled as mockumentaries by Al Gore, it makes the story more superficial.
Jon Favreau is not my favorite comedian. In fact, his comedy tends to cure my insomnia; however, the man can craft a film with the best of them. He is masterful in his pacing and his storytelling. He truly understands the revelation of the three act script in visual images. As such, it should be no surprise Favreau has crafted a fine film here, one that is quite enjoyable to watch.
THE GRADE FOR THE JUNGLE BOOK = B