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Movie Monday: The Jungle Book

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Jungle Book

Directed by Jon Favreau
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Running time: 105 minutes
Released: 2016
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios

Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he's ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.

The Jungle Book tells the story of Mowgli, a human boy taken in and raised by a pack of wolves after his father is killed by the tiger Shere Khan. Throughout the film, Mowgli struggles to find his identity as a man living among wolves and other jungle animals.

If anything can be said about Disney’s remake of its 1967 animated film The Jungle Book, it is that the film was visually pleasing. The almost entirely CGI created scenes and jungle creatures draw you into a magical world.

The Jungle Book keeps a lot of the charm and humor from the original animated film. Baloo, as expected, brings some laughs in his appearances as he cons Mowgli into helping him steal honey from bees, and the adorable and na├»ve runt of the pack Grey Brother brought many “awws” and smiles. In addition to its humor, the film conveys a message through its theme of strength in community, which is portrayed through the idea of the law of the jungle. From a young age, wolf pups are taught that “the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” In this, the film draws a bit more heavily from Rudyard Kipling's novel than the original animated film does.

The depth of detail put into all the CGI in The Jungle Book was frankly amazing. The scenery was majestic and beautiful. However, beyond the visuals, the film fell flat for my tastes. Some things felt out of place or just flat out unnecessary. While the moment where they sing “Bear Necessities” felt natural in the film, King Louie singing “I Wan’na Be Like You” felt forced and out of place, as it seems like he just randomly bursts into song. The song is especially awkward considering the racial undertones of the song itself. Implementing the song without the underlying colonial context of Rudyard Kipling's work made it feel distasteful. Furthermore, the emotional development of the film felt lacking. There is not enough build up towards the action scenes, so I felt little to no tension in them. Towards the end of the film, the forest animals become scared of Mowgli as he uses fire and almost burns down their entire forest, but they appear to spontaneously forgive and even love him again after he kills Shere Khan.

While I understand that Disney wanted it to be a family film, The Jungle Book drew too heavily from the original animated film in my opinion, adding immaturity that clashed with the majestic visuals it used. In doing so, it missed out on the chance to pander more to Kipling’s original classic to create a deeper and more satisfying film. As it is, the film felt a limited and controlled where it could have been more ambitious.

Overall, I would say that The Jungle Book did its job as a solid remake of the original animated film, but not much more. It was a good time waster, but was not very memorable or special in the end.

1 comment on "Movie Monday: The Jungle Book"
  1. I noticed that the tone of the film did often clash with the more realistic visuals. Still, I'd be lying if I didn't enjoy it!


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