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Reviews

Swinging Through the Jungle Book

If you have liked past versions of The Jungle Book, then you are sure to love the new film. Directed by Jon Favreau, the animals come to life with the special effects and animations looking so realistic. However, the plot still follows the beloved storyline, with Mowgli the “man-cub” encountering friendly and vicious animals to avoid Shere Khan the tiger. The animals, all computer generated look astonishingly realistic, especially when compared to the original cartoon character-looking animals.

Mowgli is a young boy who was taken in by a pack of wolves because his family abandoned him. Mowgli grows up learning the way of the wolves and living among all the other animals in the jungle. That is, until Shere Khan comes after him and the wolves decide it’s time to send Mowgli back to the humans. Bagheera the panther guides Mowgli along the way, encountering remembered favorites like Baloo, and the two get to sing “Bare Necessities.” Between every turn, Mowgli encounters danger and villains like Kaa the serpent and King Louie the giganopithecus, a massive monkey.

While the classic versions are generally geared towards children, this remake is for all ages: adults reminiscing about watching the original during their childhood, teens looking for a fun action-packed movie, and of course children, although young children might be get a bit scared during some of the scenes. Even though revitalized Disney films have not had much success, Jungle Book breaks the tradition. The film is different enough to be new and intriguing to those who have seen the other movie, all while maintaining the basics found in the other versions. That said, this film only has three of the songs from the older one: “Bare Necessities”, “Trust in Me”, and “I Wan’na Be Like You.” Similar to the original, Mowgli uses his human “tricks” to help all of the animals, proving his skills to be an asset instead of a weakness. Additionally, in the original, King Louie is an orangutan, but Favreau changed it to a giganopithecus, a native species of India, where the movie takes place.

Most of the screen time is directed to Mowgli, but Baloo (Bill Murray) gets a lot too. However, the rest of the characters are only briefly shown throughout the rest of the almost two hour film. Mowgli is played by Neel Sethi, an actor with no prior experience. Even with Sethi’s little experience, he makes Mowgli come to life in a way that makes all watchers sympathize with Mowgli.

As in the other, the red flower (fire) continues to symbolize the power of mankind, and Favreau executes this perfectly with the animal’s fears of it, and Mowgli’s fear too. Mowgli, however, eventually conquers his fear in order to save himself and all his loved ones in the jungle.

With The Jungle Book’s age appeal, astonishing graphics, and well rounded cast, it is sure to be a Disney film talked about for decades to come.