I am generally tired of remakes. Is Hollywood so bored, the creative juices so flat that the only films left to bring to life are retold, rehashed pictures from decades ago? Disney’s latest movie is not only a remake, it is the 4th
adaptation of the classic children’s book by Rudyard Kipling and was published as a series of short stories in the late 1800’s.
However, my oldest son (22) and I went and saw it the other day. The theater was mostly packed with adults. There were very few kids (which at first I found a little surprising).
Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is an orphaned man-cub found as an infant alone in the jungle. A black panther, Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) discovers the baby and decides that a pack of wolves would be the best choice for raising the man-cub. A mother wolf, Raksha(Lupita Nyong’o), accepts Mowgli as if one of her own pups. Though he is quite different, and full of clever tricks the pack leader discourages him from using, Kaa encourages Mowgli despite his shortcomings as a wolf.
The dangerous tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba), recognizes the smell of a human among the animals. He knows the havoc MAN can bring to the jungle. Badly burned, and the loss of vision in an eye from attacking man, Khan wants nothing more than revenge. His request is simple. Surrender the man-cub over to him and life in the jungle can go on as normal.
To prevent any harm from coming to his pack, Mowgli and Bagheera set out in search of a village with humans where Mowgli can live out his life free from the threats from Khan. The only trouble is, that was not what Khan demanded, and this leaves Mowgli’s life in danger throughout the film!
During this trek of self discovery, Mowgli meets up with a con-artist of a big bear, the beloved Baloo (Bill Murray). Their budding friendship is clearly the highlight of the film. Through dangerous snake attacks (Scarlett Johansson, as Kaa), and Mafia-style orangutan great, King Louie (Christopher Walken), the bond of friendship is strengthened!
At 101 minutes long, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I jumped every now and then. (I admit it). Some of the animal fighting sequences are intense. Think Scar and Mufasa from The Lion King, but with realistic looking animals. There could be parts that scare smaller children. Khan is terrifically evil, and menacing, while Baloo is humorously cunning, and loving.
Jon Favreau did an amazing job directing this almost 100% CGI cast. The scenes were cinematographically beautiful. I don’t even think any of it was real. For all I knew it was filmed in front of a green screen. Doesn’t matter. The magic was there. It looked authentic. I’d have sworn Sethi worked with dangerous animals through the shooting of the picture. The action and suspense was always just a few frames away. The tension grew, and grew.
The climax does not disappoint. It calls on every character from the story to make a stand, and allows for Mowgli to be the person he has become. I may have held my breath the entire last fifteen minutes of the film. The ending was so powerful that in my theater (yep, my — as in mine, lol), they applauded the screen as the end credits rolled. Mind you, this was a room mostly filled with adults, not kids. And they applauded. When’s the last time you clapped at the end of a movie?
An overall enjoyable night out. My son and I loved it. We gave it 8.5 Stars out of a possible 10. Two thumbs up. And we recommend it to viewers of all ages. Except those who can’t sit still. Or parents who ignore misbehaving kids. Or anyone who feels a need to text, or Facebook during a movie. Otherwise — anyone else/everyone else should see it.
Author of the epic fantasy novel WIZARD’S RISE