a/perture Cinema, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling, Giancarlo Esposito, Idris Elba, IMDb, Lapita Nyong'o, Neel Sathi, Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes, Scarlet Johansson, The Jungle Book, The Less Desirables
Per IMDb: “After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub named Mowgli embarks on a journey of self discovery with the help of panther, Bagheera, and free spirited bear, Baloo.”
Mowgli (Neel Sathi) has been raised by Alpha female wolf named Raksha (Lapita Nyong’o) since he was a toddler. There has been a pact between all the animals that they could gather at a certain waterhole, the remnants of the wet season during a drought, without fear or danger of violence. Akela, the Alpha male of the wolf pack (Giancarlo Esposito), gets annoyed with Mowgli for his use of human tricks, like making tools and so on, and wants him to only act like the rest of the pack.
Suddenly, a large, mean, scarred tiger named Shere Khan (Idris Elba) shows up and senses something foul. He smells a human (we find out later that Mowgli’s human father scarred Shere Khan with fire) and wants him dead. Akela and Raksha refuse to hand him over so Shere Khan tells them that when the rains come, the truce between the animals will be over and he will come and take the man cub anyway. Later, the rains come and the pack decide to send Mowgli to the man village but Raksha refuses. Mowgli senses he’s endangering the pack and other animals so he decides to go. Bagheera the black panther who brought Mowgli to Raksha says he’ll escort Mowgli back to the village. Along the way, Shere Khan attacks but Bagheera fends him off long enough for Mowgli to get in the middle of a wildebeest herd that keeps him safe from Shere Khan but not necessarily safe from harm. The wildebeest herd is caught in a landslide from the rains and ends up in a raging river. He ends up safe and finds some food.
While chasing some thieving monkeys that stole some food, he encounters a very large python named Kaa (Scarlet Johansson). She hypnotizes Mowgli and tells him (and us) his story. She has him in her grips and is about to eat him when a large sloth bear named Baloo (Murray) shows up and saves him. It turns out Baloo needs him to do some chores for him, you know, as payback for saving his life. I’m leaving the rest of the story for you to watch yourself. I will say though, that Christopher Walken as King Louie is pretty cool. He’s more eerie than in the 1967 version. Dark, like Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now!, especially in that old temple and in the shadows.
This film is far superior to the 1967 animated version, but that version still has a place in my heart, as I am a Disney freak. That being said, the effects in this film are nearly flawless and stays true to the animated version. Even though it is CGI, it doesn’t look like it and after the first bit, you start thinking these animals are really talking and doing what they’re doing in the film.
I don’t think that Neel Sethi had ever played in anything before and he was quite the actor. To be able to act like that in a CGI Green Screen world is amazing. He had to take parkour lessons to be able to move about like that. Idris Elba plays Shere Khan perfectly. His voice is awesome and it comes across here as deep and menacing. Same with Ben Kingsley. Kingsley’s voice is deeper and he sounds like a wise mentor, which fits his character. Bill Murray as Baloo brings his comedic abilities to the forefront as only a Bill Murray could do. The film is dedicated to Garry Shandling, who voices Ikki, an Indian crested porcupine. Shandling passed away after recording his parts and before the film was released.
Rotten Tomatoes rates the film 95% Fresh with an Audience score of 87%. IMDb has it at 7.5 stars out of 10. I watched the film on Netflix and I am so glad I did. I rate it 4.5 stars out of 5. Have you seen it? What did you think? What would you like to read/hear me review?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“I could get used to this.” – Baloo