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The Jungle Book

It’s something that I didn’t find myself saying after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, or even the more recent “Captain America: Civil War”. But I’ll proclaim it here: I was stunned by the visual effects for Disney’s wonderfully entertaining family film, “The Jungle Book”. Quite simply–with apologies to the marketing campaign for 1978’s “Superman”–you’ll believe that animals can talk. Only the familiar voice acting pulls you out of the impressive illusion. They’ve even perfected mimicking certain facial expressions and mannerisms, of the performers speaking for the computer-generated jungle inhabitants. It’s an amazing feat, that’s almost unnerving in its realism.

Of course, it’s all completely fake, whereas then 10-year-old star, Neel Sethi as Mowgli, is all-together quite real. And in his feature film debut, the young man convincingly cavorts with a bunch of wildlife friends that aren’t even there. Bill Murray voices Mowgli’s eventual buddy, Baloo the bear…and he’s awesome as always. All the vocal achievements are exemplary, with Ben Kingsley as Mowgli’s guardian panther, Bagheera, and Idris Elba as the malevolent Bengal tiger, Shere Khan. And sexy Scarlett Johansson slithers as Kaa the Indian python, while Christopher Walken is spot-on perfection as King Louie the gigantic Bornean orangutan. So, “man cub” Mowgli tries to stay close to his friends, and avoid his enemies, while all fear the dreaded “red flower” (aka: fire), that’s constantly threatened by humans.

Versatile director Jon Favreau, probably best known for guiding the first two MCU “Iron Man” films, should probably be credited with pulling off his finest filmmaking foray at the helm here. The movie’s look is fantastic, and it’s consistently fun. There’s so much good stuff here, that you’ll easily forgive the occasional flag in pace, or predictable plot device. “The Jungle Book” rises above its few negatives. It’s a global box office smash, and the two 8-year-olds I attended with were absolutely enchanted. And, it’s my understanding that a sequel is already in the works. Super. This is an undeniably charming film adventure.

Grade:  B+

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8 comments on “The Jungle Book

  1. I liked it more than I expected to. The visuals are stunning. And the young actor is certainly someone to watch out for, in the future. The children at the cinema adored it, as you say and it’s not too hard for adults to sit through, either.

  2. It’s very good, Greer. My 8-year-old son, and his friend, ate it up. The friend said I should give it an A+! Couldn’t quite go THAT far, but I believe my final letter designation is close to accurate. Probably being a bit kinder through the eyes of babes!

    ML

  3. Nice review Mark. It’s heart is in the right place and the visuals are absolutely beautiful.

  4. Thanks, Dan. Heart and visuals…absolutely correct.

    ML

  5. I really enjoyed reading this review. Nicely written! I was wondering if you’ve ever posted your writing on any movie sites?

    • Thanks so much for reading. My published reviews are almost exclusively found here. However, I also broadcast reviews in 67 (at last count) cities nationally (U.S.) on the radio show “America Weekend with Ed Kalegi & Christina Stoffo”. You can find links to that here on this blog…which reminds me that I should update some of that information. Appreciate your compliments!

      ML

  6. Always interested in more attention and exposure–so sure. Let me know some more details, when you have the opportunity.

    ML

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