(Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures)
Disney Nails Latest Version of ‘The Jungle Book’
Disney has produced another great adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book!”
Originally released in 1967 as one of the 19 features in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, “The Jungle Book” 2016 is a live action remake of the cartoon classic featuring animals made with CGI.
In the opening credits of “The Jungle Book” 2016, it doesn’t offer how Mowgli came to live in the jungle and was raised by a wolf pack.
It’s not until later in the film when Mowgli comes in contact with the python Kaa, played by American actress Scarlett Johansson, that his past is revealed to him in a hypnotic trance through Kaa’s eye.
The casting for Mowgli went to then 10-year-old Indian-American newcomer Neel Sethi who was selected for the role among thousands who auditioned across the globe.
In his first breakout role, Sethi was the only real human character in “The Jungle Book” 2016.
He used his imagination during the filming, doing all of his own stunts while interacting with puppets or a tennis ball.
The entire animal cast is produced digitally, including the ones that don’t speak and the ones that came to life with actors providing voices.
The most captivating character in “The Jungle Book” 2016 is the protective Black Panther Bagheera voiced by Sir Ben Kingsley, whose presence is cunning and strong throughout the movie.
Idris Elba is a surprise as the voice of Shere Kahn (Tiger King), the Bengal Tiger out for blood for the “man cub” Mowgli.
Elba does a superb job of bringing the menacing animal to life.
This is made evident when a drought brings a truce between the predators and prey of the jungle.
As the animals convene at the “Peace Rock,” Shere Kahn appears warning that all humans are dangerous and Mowgli cannot be trusted.
Protected by the wolf pack, Shere Kahn vows that when the rains return and the drought is over he will return for Mowgli.
Bill Murray does not disappoint as he brings the lovable Baloo a.k.a. “The sleepy brown bear” to life.
Murray’s comedic genius comes through perfectly throughout the movie.
In one scene, Bagheera realizes that Baloo is conning Mowgli into getting him honey for the winter for his “hibernation.”
When Bagheera states the obvious, “Bears who live in the jungle don’t hibernate!” Baloo responds, “Well I nap, a lot!”
The introduction of King Louie (voiced by Christopher Walken) is reinvented as a gigantopithecus, an extinct giant ape when Mowgli is kidnapped by the monkeys and brought back to temple ruins where King Louie resides.
The irony in this scene is Mowgli is still stunned by the kidnapping.
As he becomes aware of his surroundings, he notices an object he’s unfamiliar with.
As he turns the object around, it starts to clang.
The object is a cowbell, which summons King Louie.
In a “Saturday Night Live” skit, Walken plays a music producer who says throughout the sketch, “I need more cowbell!”
The scene seemed congruent with Mowgli clanging the cowbell as a massive hairy hand emerges from the shadows of the ruined temple and appears this enormous ape!
King Louie reveals to Mowgli the reason for his kidnapping, to provide him with the one thing he’s missing, the fire, which is referred to by the animals as “red flower.”
Justin Marks’ screenplay for “The Jungle Book” 2016 makes the conflict strictly environmental.
For example, “Can Mowgli’s human ingenuity help the jungle?”
However, the conflict can also be regarded as the coming of age between man and beast.
Disney’s adaption of “The Jungle Book” 2016 is a must see! This is one adaptation Disney got right!