The Jungle book takes a new generation into the wild
Disney dug deep into its archive to bring us a new version of the beloved classic "The Jungle Book." This one is a live action version with lots of screen graphics and famous voices. At the center of the tale is a young "man-cub" named "Mowgli," played here by a rather amazing Neel Sethi. He was about 10 when filming began on the movie and he acts like your average 10-year-old, it's just that he's been brought up by wolves. For those of you who are fans of the animated film, you'll remember that "Mowgli" has to leave his home and family when an evil tiger named "Shere Khan" decides the boy should be turned into mince-meat before he becomes a man. His friend, "Bagheera" the panther plans to escort him to the man village and turn the boy over to his own kind. Of course, nothing goes as planned and the man-cub meets with all kinds of dangers, but he encounters another true friend, "Baloo" the bear. The story remains about the same, but director Jon Favreau decided to live action was the way to go and has provided us with a computer generated forest and menagerie of animated animals. The effects are quite stunning.
With a big project like this, it's difficult to know when to end the effects and let the story begin moving. Favreau does a pretty good job of sticking to the Disney 90-minute rule, but the story tends to drag a bit. The Mouse House persuaded some of the biggest names in the business to lend their voices to the project, including Ben Kingsley at "Bagheera," Lupita Nyong'o as "Mowgli's" wolf-mom "Raksha," Idris Elba as "Shere Khan" and comedian Bill Murray as "Baloo." The "reel" star of this film is Neel Sethi, who was the only HUMAN to be on screen in the movie. The boy had to rely on his imagination and acting skills to pull it off and my hat goes off to him. He's really amazing. This movie is very family friendly, but could be scary for smaller children, although the 3-year-old sitting next to me didn't jump as much as I did. The Broadcast Film Critics Association has given "The Jungle Book" a 91 out of 100 and the Critics Choice Seal.