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Rec’s and Reviews: “The Jungle Book”

Poster for "The Jungle Book."

Poster for “The Jungle Book.” (Image source: www.imdb.com.)

  • We review: “The Jungle Book,” directed by Jon Favreau and starring Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, and Idris Elba
  • This movie is for: kids in third or fourth grade and older
  • Summary: “Man-cub” Mowgli flees the jungle with help from family and friends when he is threatened by vengeful tiger Shere Khan in this revisiting of the classic “Jungle Book” tale.

Most notable for its hyper-realistic visual effects and star-studded cast, “The Jungle Book” is a good lesson in how to tell an old story a new way. Promoted as a live-action remake of the animated Disney classic, “The Jungle Book” is a gritty and engaging take on the classic tale.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) with the wolf pack that adopted him.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) with the wolf pack that adopted him. (Image source: www.imdb.com.)

Though it takes its plot from the animated Disney movie and Rudyard Kipling’s original stories, the visual effects make “The Jungle Book” feel all-new and completely different in tone. It is intense and action-packed, even edging into scary territory at times. Viewers share Mowgli’s awe when presented with majestic elephants, but also his sense of peril when he’s on the run. They get an up-close view of injuries sustained by Mowgli and witness an important character’s death.

The strong cast is another highlight. Idris Elba thrills as the villainous but relatable tiger Shere Khan, while veteran Ben Kingsley provides a reliable presence for Mowgli and the audience as Bagheera. It is practically impossible to look away from Mowgli’s wolf family, especially when Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Raksha, is on screen.

Neel Sethi (Mowgli) filming "The Jungle Book."

Neel Sethi (Mowgli) filming “The Jungle Book.” (Image source: thewaltdisneycompany.com.)

Even amongst such talented co-stars, newcomer Neel Sethi stands out as the scrappy Mowgli. His enchanting and natural performance is even more impressive knowing that, throughout filming, he often acted opposite puppets in a blue room far from the jungle.

It is undeniable that the visual effects
are the star of the film, but its hopeful message should not be overlooked. Mowgli’s character arc promotes acceptance and creativity, and the overall
story has simple but positive messages about environmental respect and all types of families.

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Sources:

Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media
Metacritic
RogerEbert.com