Movie Review: THE JUNGLE BOOK
Star Rating (out of 5): ****
THE JUNGLE BOOK is a live action adventure/fantasy film based on the novels written by Rudyard Kipling. The film follows a young boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who is raised by a pack of wolves in the Indian jungle. A tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba), opposes Mowgli because he is human, and hunts after him, prompting Mowgli to leave behind those who raised him, embarking on a journey with his close friend, a sage black panther named Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). Along the way, Mowgli also makes friend with Baloo, a lazy sloth bear.
The Jungle Book is a stunning film with beautiful CGI . Several of the animals look real and so do the environments. It’s worth noting that the entire film was shot in a studio, which is quite surprising. The cast of the film is stellar and the characters they play bring this fictional world to life with well-rounded personalities. The world and society of the Indian Jungle is diverse and charismatic.
Each character is so distinct from the other, and therefore very engaging. Neel Sethi, the lead character and pretty much the only human actor in the film, does a good job here. Though some of his lines don’t land, he is an entertaining character and you do understand him.
Shere Khan is a haunting and intimidating villain. It’s safe to say that he takes the film to some places that felt a bit too dark for what I thought was a movie for very young kids. I was impressed by it, but some parents might not be pleased when they take their 4 year old kids to this. It’s not just Shere Khan though.
The film deals with some very realistic themes and has much more depth than I thought it would. The narrative follows a relatively predictable structure, but you do stay entertained.
The film does rush some things, like the setup to the story. You find yourself wishing they told you more about Mowgli’s origin, or that his relationship to the wolves was better developed. He was indeed entertaining and understandable, but not as well-rounded as others. Also, the musical scenes aren’t done that well either. They feel a bit weird instead of being fun and natural.
A scene where Mowgli has narrowly escaped Shere Khan, and is now riding with a herd of animals across a mud path when there’s a sudden land slide. This is the most tense scene of the movie and is exhilarating the entire time.
Mowgli’s origin. Very out of place and rushed.
The Jungle Book is overall a very good film. It has a wonderful cast of characters, an entertaining story, and stunning visuals. I also forgot to mention the amazing score, and the fact that this was Neel Sethi’s first feature film. The film does have some pacing issues and some weird musical scenes, but overall, this is a great experience.
Review by SAM SILBER