Well I belong to that generation of the audience who had a childhood watching The Jungle Book on Doordarshan. So the memories are a little vague, but the nostalgia is quite heavy. It is always a bit difficult to create a movie from a story that we have seen as TV episodes. Jon Favreau who has movies like Iron Man and Chef to his credit remakes the 1967 movie of the same name with advanced technologies. The film is terrific in terms of visual quality and the sort of character detailing. But may be because of the huge expectation and the sort of vastness we feel about the story of Mowgli, the movie looks a bit short.
So the story moves like this. Mowgli, taken care by the wolf pack under the protection of a panther named Bhageera becomes a threat for the whole animals when a tiger named Sher Khan demanded his death. The story is basically focusing on Bhageera’s decision to take him back to the Man Village. Who all Mowgli meets in this return trip and how does it all end is what The Jungle Book narrating.
What excites is the cinematic experience you get to feel inside the cinema hall. Favreau and team has done a fabulous job in visualizing the epic story in the most eye candy way. The detailing given to the forest and the originality we feel on seeing all the characters is something that makes this movie quite an impressive one. The writing also deserves a special mention for being more on the real side rather than being the slightly juvenile way of preaching. The basic nature of the animals was shown nicely and it sort of gave a nice shape to their characters.
Neil Sethi looked adorable and smart as the innocent Mowgli. Among the voiceovers, my favorite was Bill Murray as the cheeky quirky Baloo. Ben Kingsley as Bhageera had that commanding tone. Idris Elba added much needed roughness to Sher Khan. Christopher Walken as the singing King Louie was also fun. Whatever Scarlett Johansson had to say was there in the trailer.
The uncompromised making with the use of motion capture, CGI and photorealistic rendering gives the movie this terrific visual appeal. The set pieces are constructed smartly giving us a lot of surprises. I liked the way they gave each character an identity through various scenes. Baloo’s laziness, Bhageera’s care and Sher Khan’s cunningness were shown through some smartly written less verbally elaborated scenes. The only drawback is that it looks a bit short and we sort of tend to expect more of a bumpy risky ride. And because of the way the story was constructed, characters like Kaa never got the sort of spotlight we would expect. A great round of applauds to all the people worked in the visual effects department in recreating this whole world.
So the last word is that The Jungle Book is definitely a movie you should watch. It may not have the epic stature. But it has enough to keep you engaged. A slightly more elaborated story with better space for all the iconic characters would have made a difference. Do watch it.
NB: The author of this review has vague childhood memories of watching Jungle Book on Television. Poor guy hasn’t read the book by Rudyard Kipling.
The Jungle Book is definitely a movie you should watch. It may not have the epic stature. But it has enough to keep you engaged.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended