Monday, April 18, 2016
The Jungle Book 
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RogerEbert.com (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review
The Jungle Book  (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 . 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 .
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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