As if casting from a stable of live animals that can actually speak and act, director Jon Favreau has created a visually stunning, thematically rich and humorously heartfelt adventure that fires on the fervor of friendship… Simply put, The Jungle Book is a wondrous, must-see experience for the entire family (a proven statement since my 9-year old and another-aged mother both loved it as well; though young ones might label a few scenes as ‘scary’). This is a gorgeously imagined treat that literally drops you in to the depths of a living, breathing, yet still computer-generated jungle – a place where every snap of a vine, every splash of water, every crackle of flame is felt. And as gorgeous as this movie looks and feels, it’s the relationships and brilliantly focused voice work that will undoubtedly win audiences over. Murray, Kingsley, Nyong’o, Walken, Johansson and Elba all dutifully support the lone human in the mix, newcomer Neel Sethi (Mowgli the man-cub) – as a boy raised by wolves being pressured back to his human herd, he affirmatively anchors the film and its generous themes of family, preservation, survival, innovation, courage and pride. The story is appropriately accessible, the scenery breathtaking, the cinematography lush and the direction delivered with a refined urgency and immaculate attention to detail. Plus, a couple of briefly subtle musical numbers will add a nice toe-tapping touchstone to Disney’s 1967 animated original (based on the written works of Rudyard Kipling). Mesmerizing and immersive, The Jungle Book is a magnificently majestic mammalian masterpiece!
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken and Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Jon Favreau (Chef, Iron Man and Elf)
Running time: 1hr. 51min.
Story: The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don't have his best interests at heart.