Star Wars… The Matrix… Avatar… What do they have in common? They are great films with wonderful stories that also have pushed the technological advances and boundaries of movie magic. It is now time to add one more film to this stellar list… the live action adaptation of “The Jungle Book”.
“The Jungle Book” is a work of art… borderline masterpiece when considering the way this movie was created with the CGI that created a place, a real world that makes the viewer believe that we are watching a film that was shot in either India or Africa. The true star of this film is its director Jon Favreau, his vision and passion for the project facilitated astounding storytelling, a strong adaptation of the source material making this movie an exercise… in great filmmaking.
I cannot wait to delve into the behind the scenes making of this film. While shot only on a sound stage in LA, we are lead to believe and ultimately whisked away… magically to the jungle. The animals seem so real with set pieces that invoke emotionality and a story that makes you long for adventure.
But what also makes this movie good is the find of an unknown kid actor – Neel Sethi. He is not just playing Mowgli… he is Mowgli! Neel Sethi is so good that you will believe that the cartoon of Jungle Book is really a documentary about the life of Neel living in the jungle. He connotes an understated innocence, filled with an intoxicating charm and a touch of youthful boldness that makes you want to love his characterization of Mowgli. Normally it is very difficult for any actor to play/act opposite green screen images and settings, but this young actor pulls it off as if he was born for this role.
Jungle Book also boasts an all-star cast that rises to the occasion. Idris Elba plays the villain, the tiger – Shere Khan – who is menacing and truly convincing as the biggest bad of the jungle. Idris conveys through his acting/voice-over the cunning of his character and shows why the other animals fear him. Khan has a disdain for Mowgli because he knows that when he grows up he will become the worst enemy of the jungle… a man. Men who are dangerous whose ways are tricky… none more threatening to the jungle and something that separates animals from man – the dreaded red flower (otherwise known as fire)!
But the fire burns through the provocative vocal performances from the rest of the cast. Voice performances like Ben Kingsley (as Bagheera) offer this story the wise sage that helps us to bridge the gap of unbelief of a kid who is raised by wolves and finds a home in the jungle. Other stellar voice performances are given by Bill Murray (who plays Baloo) and Christopher Walken (King Louie).
Jungle Book is a must see movie that is more than a family and/or kid film – it is an experience. It is recommended that you watch in 3D because Favreau adroitly uses this technology to its fullest as if you are biting into a piece of fruit and the juices, nectar and goodness bursts into your mouth for a wonderful refreshing taste.
Unlike the animals in the Jungle Book, don’t be afraid of the red flower and go into this jungle and then just like our hero Mowgli you will find yourself at home… in the “Jungle Book”.