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The Jungle Book Movie Review

The Jungle Book holds a special place in my memories. When I was a child, my favorite album (before I grew into more mature listening tastes, like “Fun Rock”) was The Jungle Book. The vinyl album came with a full-sized picture book with illustrations based on Disney’s 1967 animated movie. As such, Disney’s latest incarnation of this classic had a high bar to attain before I would love it. The pros and cons are next, but first I want to state up front that I enjoyed the movie overall, although I was reminded as soon as it started that it was a movie, albeit very watchable by adults, ultimately made for kids.

With this movie, let’s do the cons first.jungle book movie poster

The story definitely went off script from the original animated movie. I won’t say how, but there were more than a few major parts of the plot that were different, including the ending. Also, parts were added. Now, I have not studied or read all of the original Kipling stories about Mowgli, so maybe Disney did their due diligence and fleshed out the story from those. It’s possible, but I imagine many of the decisions were made by studio execs saying things like, “We need more tension here! Higher stakes! We have to SHOW the audience how resourceful the kid is!” And, although the film paid homage to some of the original songs from the animated feature, the voice talents seemed to have been given the green light to improvise. It all pretty much worked, but you know–be prepared for the differences if you are already a fan of the story. Anyone who’s never seen it won’t be bothered by this fact at all.

I also think that, in some scenes, the movie might be a little scary for very young children. How young? I have no idea. I have a dog, not a child. But in a few places it was dark and foreboding and scary and, though the movie handled death in a fairly respectful and non-gory way, the deaths in this movie would not have “flown” back in 1967.

Other than those issues, I don’t have anything negative to say about the movie, other than in its rewriting of the original story, the writers seemed a little lazy to me, relying on some very overused cliches, which I also won’t explain here so I don’t spoil the show.

Now for the good parts–and this movie has quite a number of them. In no particular order–

The CGI was really really good. There was a single human star, and the rest of the cast was comprised of animals, and they were probably the best CGI animals I’ve seen. Also, the blending of the human boy playing Mowgli, the real (?) jungle, and the animated animals was seamless. Could I have looked at a still frame of the animals and mistaken them for real animals? Not quite all the time, but maybe in some frames. For all I know, they used real animals in some of the frames. I have no idea, and it doesn’t matter to me. What was important is that it all held together extremely well, visually. And from a realism standpoint, well there isn’t anything I know of that is comparable. Yet.

More good stuff. The voice actors. I’m sure the names of the voice actors have already been released, but I didn’t know who they were going to be when I saw the movie, and it was fun discovering them along the way. Suffice to say, the director (John Favreau of Iron Man fame, among many others) made some good choices casting this thing, and the character of Baloo, the bear, was my favorite.

The kid, Mowgli? I’ve never seen him before, but he did a good job, especially considering how young he appeared to be and the fact that he probably spent a lot of his time acting in front of a green screen or trying to take seriously stunt men dressed in animal plushy outfits that would later be digitally erased. Once again, I have no idea. This is not that kind of review.

Lastly, stay and watch the credits. No hidden scenes, but some very entertaining animation while the initial closing credits roll.

That’s about it for this one. It was pretty straightforward and fun, but I didn’t stand up and clap when it was over either. Here’s how I will sum up The Jungle Book movie.

I left more impressed than I did entertained.

That’s probably because I’m a curmudgeon who is way too particular with the movies he likes. That being said, I recommend that you see this with the kids, but think about maybe not taking the younger ones or kids who scare easily. Also, it is definitely worth seeing on the big screen. I would even say that doing so is a bear necessity. Enjoy!

2 Comments

  • Karen McG on Apr 16, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the realistic review. I was trying to decide whether to watch it on the big screen and will do so, due to your recommendation.

    • Mike on Apr 16, 2016 Reply

      Thanks, Karen! Very happy that you found the review helpful. I hope you enjoy the movie and would love to hear what you think about it after you see it. Have a great weekend!

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