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[Joint Review] – ‘The Jungle Book’

 
 
Overview
 

Release Date: 15 April 2016 [USA]
 
Director: Jon Favreau
 
Writer: Justin Marks [Screenplay] - Rudyard Kipling [Book]
 
Cast: Neel Sethi - Bill Murray - Ben Kingsley - Idris Elba - Lupita Nyong'o
 


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Posted April 17, 2016 by

 
Full Article
 
 

Michael’s Perspective:

Mowgli the man-cub is raised by Akela’s wolf pack, all under the watchful guise of Bagheera, Mowgli’s original finder. When the dreaded Shere Khan learns of the man-cub’s presence in the jungle he vows to hunt him down. To protect their adopted young, Akela and Raksha trust Bagheera in escorting Mowgli to a new home among the man village. Thus begins an epic journey.

The presentation is amazing, with the live-action Mowgli among photo-realistic animals and surroundings looking seamless. Animating an animal’s face to speak a human language has always been tricky to pull off well. Here, it looks stunning. The framing is especially faithful to the 1967 animatic classic, highlighted in one beautiful shot with Mowgli on stepping stones, Bagheera dutifully following and a mighty waterfall as the backdrop.

Neel Sethi is spot on as the man-cub Mowgli, bringing back all the childish impatience and naivety he was known for. Just as perfect is Sir Ben as black panther Bagheera. His presence brings security and military-grade authority. Despite Akela being the alpha-male over Mowgli, Bagheera acts as his true paternal guardian. Mowgli’s maternal love comes from Lupita Nyong’o’s Raksha who is easily the emotional heavyweight of the movie.

Most impressive is Idris Elba as the fearsome Bengal tiger Shere Khan. Gone is the slightly camp Khan of old and in comes something much more intimidating. This updated Khan sports a half-burnt face, one pale eye and some seething hatred for all things human. The performance and beautiful character design unites to make something-rather someone- very memorable.

Another departure in character yet an interesting and inspired choice was Scarlet Johansson (a name that sounds exceptional when hissed) as hypno-python Kaa. Some efficient writing turns Kaa into a teller of Mowgli’s backstory while keeping all the character’s classic quirks.

Then we have the beloved Baloo, played by the much beloved Bill Murray. Despite the still-lasting trauma induced by The Revenant, Baloo sitting on his ass and sounding like Bill F***ing Murray is adorable. His rendition of Bare Necessities is enthusiastic and swaggering. Sadly, Murray doesn’t bring the emotional warmth present in Phil Harris’ performance. To get Mowgli to move on with Bagheera, Baloo falsely tells the man-cub that he needs him no more and wants rid of him.

“That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done”, Baloo says and yet it’s difficult to believe him.

Christopher Walken as King Louis was a curious choice. At first he is incredibly intimidating and charismatic, this 12-foot Gigantopithecus drenched in shadow like Brando from Apocalypse Now. And then he starts singing and topping Louis Prima was never going to be easy.

Jon Favreau has taken on risky business, trying to reinvigorate a classic with such ambition. The results are incredible. Terrific action, heart-felt emotion, vivid visuals and memorable performances from all involved, this latest Jungle Book is a must see for all ages.

Written by:

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Michael Keyes
Silences Band
@mkjk1990
Full Contributor

 

Sarah’s Perspective:

I loved it, as I have with most of John Favreau’s work… but maybe let’s not mention the Iron Man franchise… seriously not a fan of Tony Stark and his over-inflated ego. But anyway, Favreau’s recent turn to supposed ‘Family’ films has caught me off-guard – especially with this Disney reboot surprising me with just how much I enjoyed it.

TRIGGER WARNING: Fire/Violence/Death.

I use the term of it being within the ‘Family’ genre loosely to say the least, the story’s death and destruction will eventually make any woman, man or child cry. Besides that Favreau follows the original pretty closely, although you will be in for one big surprise if you’re expecting a near exact replica of the 1967 cartoon. We follow young Man-cub Mowgli of attempts to stay in his jungle home, but is persisted by the very cuddly panther Bagheera – Ben Kingsley, needing to get him back to human civilisation. All before the torn and tattered angry cat of Shere Khan catches up with them, seeking revenge for one of his eyes. We meet them all along the way – Baloo, Kaa and King Louie. However you will only be met by about approx. 15-20 seconds of song time in this film which was originally a musical.

The whole cast did a good job for the most of it, however I feel that Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, yet again let a film down with her monotone voice and lack of personality. So nothing new with Johansson letting down the cast, thank god Bill Murray’s Baloo helped provide comedic relief for the rest of it. Maybe I’m wrong, but she was out-acted by the rest of the cast. Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito also did well enough jobs, however Idris Elba playing Shere Khan did steal the show overall. He made it seem so effortless for him to portray such an evil villain, kudos to him. But yet, I have to mention newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli doing a pretty great job of having to act alongside make-believe creatures, and yet still giving an all-round pleasing performance.

On the whole, I have to admit that I expected a larger part of King Louie, and no there was no pun intended. Christopher Walken’s voice being well suited to the giant orangutan seemed to beg more of a screen time. Yet I say that and I felt alienated when it came to the ‘I Wanna Be like You’ number, let’s just say that the timing and atmosphere written for it was all wrong. It felt bizarre and out of place. A menacing primate offering a mafia-like opportunity to Mowgli had very little reason to break out into a supposedly very happy jazzy song. Not that Walken doesn’t have a nice singing voice, but I still felt that the whole scene should have just left the song until the credits alone.

Anything other than the Don Corleone-like character breaking out into song and dance routine of Walken’s oddly timed musical number, I would say definitely go see it in 3D. It was good enough without, but after coming out of the screening, I would say that it would have been worth paying extra for 3D seating. All else I can say is that it was a very enjoyable film, and you shall come out of it hopefully at least very content. Go see this movie for a happy ending, and a chance to say “Aw” at a load of animated animals who aren’t lookalikes from Madagascar.

Written By:

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Sarah Rodgers
@Sarah_Rogers95
Welcome To The Dollhouse – Blog
Work Experience Contributor

 

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