In the midst of a huge spring snowstorm, my boys and I decided it was time to hit the movies again. This time, we ventured out to the theatre to see the newest Disney release, “The Jungle Book”. As a little girl, I was a huge fan of the Disney read-along version of this story, so I was eager to see the live action film based on one of my childhood’s most cherished stories. My boys (ages 13 and 10) had mixed feelings about it. My youngest was looking forward to it, but my teenager was torn between sleeping in or eating junk food at the theatre. Ultimately, his teenage boy appetite won out and he came with us. For the first time in a long time, we all really enjoyed the same movie…three resounding thumbs up! Read on for all of the details and don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this review.
Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire. The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world.
Overall my boys and I loved this film. I give it an A-, my teenager gives it a B, and my youngest son gives it a B+. The inspiring story, all-star voice cast, and spectacular computer-generated effects are really what make this film a winner. If there is a downside, and it wasn’t easy to find one, it is that the musical numbers most Disney classics are known for are sorely lacking in this version. Only three songs are featured, one of which is only in the credits, and the two that are prominent in the film are more spoken than sung. Aside from that minor issue, “The Jungle Book” is stunning. It should be noted that this isn’t your typical light-hearted Disney animated film, “The Jungle Book” is dark, slow-paced, and violent. The vicious animal fights and perilous situations that beloved main characters find themselves in could be alarming to younger viewers. The messages of bravery, family, and teamwork are strong though, and ultimately should leave you and your family feeling inspired.
I would recommend this film for children at least 9 years old based on my experience with my boys, however you may find that the violence against animals could make it difficult for sensitive children of all ages to watch. I’ve included the trailer below and for more details, reviews, ratings and for help determining if it might be right for your family, please check out this link or feel free to ask me a question in the comments section.