Thursday, September 1, 2016

Disney's "The Jungle Book" Swings Into Homes


Walt Disney brings home Jon Favreau's bombastic live-action adaptation of "The Jungle Book". The talented "Iron Man" director worked from a script by Justin Marks from the book by Rudyard Kipling. Neel Sethi makes his debut appearance as Mowgli, supported by an ensemble of voice actors like Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o and many more.


Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he's ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure in "The Jungle Book".


Director Jon Favreau deserves a pat on the back for what could only have been a stressful and time-consuming project to undertake. There's so much CGI to blend together with physical surroundings and Mowgli. I would imagine the feat felt impossible at times. Much of it looks great, while there are moments you can tell Mowgli is running and jumping in front of a green screen.


As far as Neel Sethi's performance as Mowgli is concerned, it was fine. A more seasoned child actor could've given it a bit more charisma. For a kid who grew up as a wolf, he seems a bit wimpy and whiny.


"The Jungle Book" is rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril. It contains violence and gore, and frightening and intense scenes. No bloodshed is seen, but it's a much darker take on the source material than the classic cartoon was.


The Blu-ray version of "The Jungle Book" contains some entertaining special features. Audio commentary for the feature is provided by Director Jon Favreau. A 35-minute featurette entitled "'The Jungle Book' Reimagined" focuses on the making of the film. "I Am Mowgli" and "King Louie's Temple: Layer by Layer" are two other short extras which go behind the scenes of the production.


While the live-action adaptation of "The Jungle Book" isn't perfect, it's still an entertaining and engaging film that will appeal to older audiences as well as younger ones. The CGI is a bit off at times, briefly taking the audience out of the viewing experience. However, when so much digital animation and manipulation is being used, there's bound to be some rough patches. The movie is definitely another notch in the belt for Director Jon Favreau, who proves he can make effects-heavy big-budget blockbusters with just as much heart and soul as there are massive mudslides and other spectacles.

"The Jungle Book" is available now on 3D Blu-rayBlu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.


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