- on Friday, 15 April 2016 14:14
- by Frank Wilkins
Disney’s mostly-live-action reimagining of its 1967 classic The Jungle Book is a dazzling visual spectacle that tinkers very little with the original’s underlying story while providing an astonishingly new look and feel to the world of man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi), black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray) and the other scaled and four-footed characters who all call the jungle their home. Simply put, The Jungle Book 2016 is a real swinging time in the jungle.
But be forewarned: the bright colors, kid-friendly tone, giggly humor, and foot-stomping boogie woogie numbers of the original have been replaced by a much darker jungle environment that hides danger around every corner and behind every blade of Savannah grass. In fact, despite the warmth of soul and depth of charm in Jon Favreau’s new film (from the pen of Justin Marks), the visuals and sound may be a bit too terrifying for the youngest and most susceptible children. So, if you decide to bring the entire family in tow, it’s important to know your child’s own sensibilities. Be prepared for healthy discussions after the movie’s end as it’s a loud and in-your-face affair with hyper-realistic depictions of fire, death, danger, peril, and mean-spirited characters who aim to kill or capture.
With that friendly public service announcement out of the way, lets get down to what makes Favreau’s version a worthy accompaniment to the original that has entertained generations of Disney fans.
At the forefront is the wonderful story that originates from the writings of Rudyard Kipling. Initially believed By Walt Disney to be too dark and sinister for a family film, early versions of the 1967 script were changed during production. Favreau’s take more closely resembles Kipling’s vision with those dark undertones fully intact. He clearly understands that story is king and his version of The Jungle Book is teeming with loads of humanity, emotion and depth of character.
Speaking of characters, the entire jungle gang is back in the updated plot that finds young Mowgli, who was raised by a pack of wolves, discovering that he is no longer welcome in the jungle as fearsome tiger Shere Khan, who bears the scars of man, wants him dead. But under the tutelage of Bagheera, and Baloo, Mowgli learns not only how to survive in the jungle, but also how to kick back and enjoy the simpler moments life has to offer.
Also returning are Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) the hypnotic-eyed snake who wants to seduce Mowgli into her deadly coils, and King Louie of the Apes (Christopher Walken) the giant orangutan whose reimagining here is nothing short of genius. Favreau deliberately exaggerates his size turning the ape into a behemoth of a villain who holds Mowgli hostage until the boy turns over the secret to man’s fire which would give Louie total control over the entire jungle. Pay extra close attention to King Louie’s scene in the ancient ruins and you might notice the clever nod to Brando’s Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now.
Favreau has done a marvelous job with his adaptation by hitting just the right tone and injecting it with equal parts heart and humor. Nearly every frightful moment (and there are plenty) is relieved by a countering scene of delight and whimsy – especially once Mowgli meets up with Baloo whose bohemian lifestyle begins to rub off on the man-cub. The director stays refreshingly true to Disney’s original coming-of-age story without selling out or talking down to children. He plays up Kipling’s rich environment where many dangers lurk, and blends it seamlessly with things we so fondly remember from the original, including a few brief references to those wonderful songs of our childhood. Kids and parents from six to sixty will enjoy Mowgli’s story of self-discovery and may, along the way, learn to leave strife behind and better appreciate the bare necessities of life.
MPAA Rating: PG for some sequences of scary action and peril
Runtime: 105 mins
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks
Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley
Genre: Family | Adventure
Tagline: The legend will never be the same.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Kid, I got ears. My ears got ears. Only I can protect you."
Distributor: Walt Disney Motion Pictures
Official Site: http://movies.disney.com/the-jungle-book-2016
Release Date: April 15, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No detials available.
Synopsis: Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), based on Rudyard Kipling's timeless stories and inspired by Disney's classic animated film, The Jungle Book is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who's been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he's ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don't exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.
Available on Blu-ray - August 30, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); iTunes digital copy; Google Play digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A
No one, when the original film was being illustrated, could probably have guessed that a live-action version of The Jungle Book could ever be possible. But here we are in 2016 and here it is. Presented by Walt Disney, the complex details in this digitally shot film are AMAZING. This is a 1080p transfer that rivals anything I saw in the theaters this past summer. Beauty is everywhere. It is absolutely a must-own, especially if you are a fan of Disney. The crisp environments of the film overwhelm the senses and pop with colors, lushness, and a sonic soundscape that make you feel every minute. Night scenes are specifically sharp. Black levels are inky thick and maintain their edges and the picture itself has a depth that feels endless. The sound – presented here in a superbly realized DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 lossless soundtrack – is immersive and expressive and fills every minute with a nice aural impact.
Director Jon Favreau provides a very solid feature-length commentary that explains all the behind-the-scenes happenings. He definitely loves the source material and, given that he is solo on the commentary, has room to elaborate on much of the technical aspects of the shoot. It’s good stuff; exactly what commentaries are for.
Walt Disney has loaded this release with three solid supplemental items. Covering the impressive special effects is The Jungle Book Reimagined, which takes a look at how the film happened, why it “apes” (pun intended) the animated film’s look, the voice casting, and more. Following that is a look at the casting of the film’s Mowgli. A quick look at King Louie’s temple rounds out the collection. Included with the purchase of the blu-ray is a DVD copy and a Disney digital code.
- The Jungle Book Reimagined (35 min)
- I Am Mowgli (8 min)
- King Louie's Temple: Layer by Layer (3 min)