Monday, April 18, 2016

The Jungle Book [2016]

MPAA (PG) CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (4 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

The Jungle Book [2016] (directed by Jon Favreau, screenplay by Justin Marks, based on the classic children's book [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb] by Rudyard Kipling [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is a remarkable testament to the potential of our times.  What else could one say about a hyper-REALISTIC ... children's tale complete with talking, indeed SINGING bears (thanks Bill Murray ;-)  that look like the ones one'd run into in Yellowstone.

Yes, I can immediately imagine how technology could soon disemploy all future generations of actors, doomed soon to compete against Studio-OWNED eternal CGI hyper-realistic "clip art" versions of Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson, or even an army of Computer-Enhanced Kumars (er Kal Penns) or Woody Allens ;-).   But that's for another more dystopic SciFi-ish film to explore (Attn: film-makers, I'd want some credit and my Order could certainly use the royalties ;-)   For now, let's just bask in THE AWESOMENESS of watching Bill Murray voicing a good-natured (if somewhat morally lacking ;-) SINGING CGI bear who looked like he _could_ have been just as ferocious (if he tried ... ;-) as the CGI bear that nearly tore-to-pieces Leonardo DiCaprio's character in The Revenant [2015].  Again, what a remarkable time we live in!

The story?  Oh, yes, the story ... ;-).  It follows the basic outline of the story of  Mowgli [wikip] [IMDb] (played here by Neel Sethi) from Kipling's original Jungle Book [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] with obvious influences from the Disney's 1967 animated version as well as The Lion King [1994]

Mowgli [wikip] [IMDb] was a human baby that was left abandoned and defenseless in the Indian jungle of the British Raj Era after his parents were killed by a tiger Shere Khan [wikip] [IMDb] (voiced in the current version by Idris Elba).  Saved by a panther named Bagheera [wikip] [IMDb] (voiced here by Ben Kingsley) and given-over by said panther to a pack of wolves led by Akela [wikip] [IMDb] (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha [wikip] [IMDb] (voiced here by Lupita Nyong'o) for raising. 

The film begins with 10 y/o Mowgli happily running about the jungle with his follow wolf-step-brothers nobody caring (much) that he was "a bit different" than the other wolf cubs, 'cept when Mowgli occasionally just does one of his "human tricks" (spontaneously using _some item_ like a shell or a stick as a tool).  At those times he's told quite forthrightly that his behavior (human trick) was "inappropriate" for "life (among animals) in the jungle" ;-).

All seems to be going well until ... Shere Khan the tiger reenters (after a many year absence) Mowgli's life, wanting to kill him, and Bagheera then to wolf-mother Raksha's dismay tells Mowgli that they're going to have to get him to a human village so that he could be safe (from said tiger).

Much then ensues ... including Mowgli's much above mentioned encounter (followed by somewhat complicated friendship) with Baloo the Bear [wikip] [IMDb] (voiced with splendid ever slothful "this is soo much work" disconcern by Bill Murray ;-), as well as a temptress snake named Kaa [wikip] [IMDb] (and voiced wonderfully by Scarlet Johannson) and a true "800 pound of a Mobster gorilla (er orangutan)" King Louie (from Disney's 1967 adaptation) [IMDb] (voiced by Christopher Walken).

It all makes for one heck of a story ;-)

Great job folks!  Great job!

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