Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book released today in India ( before US and Europe ) and has managed to pull the audience into it’s wonderfully realised world from the very first frame. The fantastical tale starts of with a boy ( Mowgli ) found in the jungle and eventually being raised up by a pack of Wolves ( Akela and group ). As years pass by, Mowgli crosses paths inadvertently with the ferocious and scarred Tiger ( Shere Khan ) who vows to kill him at any given opportunity. This conflict between Man and Animal was in the classic by Kipling, is so minutely detailed and vivaciously thought out, that the book makes it a tough ask on any film maker to recreate that soulfully gripping magic onscreen. That is where Jon Favreau scores high. He sticks true to the soul of the book, envisioning a vibrant and populous landscapes and ably occupying characterisations. He succeeds in bringing back the nostalgic feels of the yesteryears Disney affairs, who always strung a chord with their high emotional value and cleanly choreographed set pieces, not to forget perfect voice cushioning for each of the featured characters.
What Works For The Movie :
- First things first, it’s a visual spectacle like no other. Using CGI and motion-capture technology, Favreau, much like Avatar and Life of Pi, creates an immersive experience that is both realistic in texture and fantastical in feel. To see the jungle come alive in the first 20 minutes of the film is the most sensuous experience I’ve had in the movies of late. You can feel the dust of the scorching summer, taste the mud as the herd of wild buffaloes charge through the mud-pond and smell the dampness of the forest after the arrival of monsoons.
- Ingeniously Cast Voice Attributions work seamlessly with the CGI emulations in place. Bill Murray ( Baloo ) has the wittiest lines and he breathes life into his characters with his comebacks. It is therefore hard to imagine any other actor portraying Baloo in a manner he did. Ben Kingsley ( Bhageera ) and Idris Elba as ( Shere Khan ) have such commanding voices that they can make the hair behind your neck stand with just by saying Hi. And such engrossing voices seep into the characterizations seamlessly.
- Action Set Pieces are integral to every animation movie to click ( recent case of Kung Fu Panda 3 ) and dear god, does this film have them in plenty. From frantic opening sequences, to adrenaline pumping Bison chase, to King Louie escape set ( played ever so fluidly by Chirstopher Walken at his menacing best ) and the final face off act of Mowgli and Shere Khan, there’s enough in there to make it a must watch even if you aren’t in for the nostalgic effect.
- Soul of Disney is kept intact even under those mind boggling CGI and 3D Animation works, and with débutante Neel Sethi bringing infinite memorability to the lead role of Mowgli, it only adds to a classic status this film might go on to be.
What Doesn’t Work :
Nothing much going against to be honest. It was the most fun I had in movies in recent times. It came in with huge expectations, and aren’t I glad that it exceeded them. This movie is what blockbusters are made of. However, If I have to be picky, I’d go with the 5 minute role for Scarlett Johansson’s Kaa, at her seductive best., being not extended. But then, it’s just a minor wrinkle, as The Jungle Book 2 has commenced it’s production, if rumours are to be believed, and Kaa will play a pivotal role in it.
Our Verdict : We fell in love with this version of the timeless classic, The Jungle Book. It’s time you do too. And oh before I forget. It is highly recommended that it is watched in 3D and on a really great screen, to truly experience the splendour and glory of this movie and it’s lush and dangerous Jungles.