The Jungle Book (2016) Review: Fantastical Jungle Story


by Okema Gunn

The Jungle Book (2016) comes to life, portraying the most current version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic story of an incredible fictional realm. The director (Jon Favreau) and writer (Justin Marks) hit the nail on the head. The film depicts a fantastical world, full of intrigue, where both humans and animals speak their minds. The Jungle Book transforms the original cartoon version into an exciting adventure that unfolds right before one’s very eyes.

The main character is a young Mowgli, the man-cub, found by a black panther, named Bagheera. He entrusts the boy to a wolf pack led by Akela and his female companion Raksha. Akela and Raksha raised Mowgli like their own. Bagheera begins training Mowgli when he comes of age. Mowgli will be out on his own someday and his guardian fears that there will not be enough time for young Mowgli to learn all that he needs to know about survival in the dangerous jungle. While growing up in the wolf pack, Mowgli is reprimanded and discouraged from using his human tricks to get things accomplished (both by Bagheera and the wolves).

During a Peace Truce, the animals gather for replenishment at the Water Rock during a dry season. At this time, no animals must be harmed. A Bengal tiger, named Shere Khan appears and threatens the wolves to hand over Mowgli. Shere Khan states that there is no place in the jungle for humans and that eventually Mowgli will grow up and destroy the jungle. Shere Khan also references his encounter with a grown human and how he was burned by the “red flower” of fire.

The unanimous decision is to take Mowgli back to the “Man-Village”; the only way he will be safe and that everything will turn out to be a “win-win” situation. However, when Bagheera tries to take Mowgli back they are attacked by Shere Khan. Mowgli eludes the wrath of Shere Khan temporarily, but he cannot run forever.

THE JUNGLE BOOKWhile on his travels through the jungle, Mowgli befriends a bear named Baloo, encounters a treacherous python named Kaa, assists an elephant herd, and is kidnapped by a troop of monkeys. By the end of the story, the conflict between Mowgli and Shere Khan must be resolved! Watch the film to see how this amazing story transpires!

The events and scenes in The Jungle Book (2016) are thrilling and action packed. Jon Favreau states that “many of the scenes in the film are ones that he remembers as a boy.” He wanted to keep the story and plot as close to the animated version as possible, which he did. I did not see The Jungle Book (1994), but I also don’t remember any raving reviews that compelled me to watch the movie either.

The music for The Jungle Book (2016) was written and composed by John Debney. “The Bare Necessities”, was originally written by Terry Gilkyson. This song was sung by Bill Murray and Neel Sethi in the 2016 version. “Trust in Me” and “I Wan’na Be Like You”, was written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. It was performed by Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken. Richard M. Sherman wrote and adapted the lyrics for Christopher Walken’s interpretation of “I Wan’na Be Like You”.

There are a few things story wise that differ from the animated version (beginning, end and a few details), but the CGI effects are amazing and do not take away from the dialogue or the lesson learned from the film. “The law of the jungle” and “individuality”. Overall, I would recommend this film to see, if you want to be entertained with a light humorous adventure story. I was not disappointed. I would give it 3.5 stars out of 4.

I watched this movie in 3D form, which is a must… in order to gain its full impact. Here’s an interesting fact too: The original animated The Jungle Book (1967) “was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who passed way during its production.”

• This film includes a star-studded cast of:
Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Bill Murray (Baloo), Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Giancarlo Esposito (Akela), Christopher Walken (King Louie) Garry Shandling (Ikki), Jon Favreau (Pygmy Hog), Sam Raimi (Giant Squirrel)

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