Just the Bare Necessities of Disney’s “The Jungle Book”

the_jungle_book_poster_key_art**Spoilers floating downstream, beware!!**

Networth: Small potatoes. If you can’t wait for the blu ray release then at least wait for a matinee or dollar theater!

To be honest, that spoiler warning wasn’t all that necessary. After all, the Jungle Book has been around since 1893 (for those of you who aren’t math-inclined, that’s 123 years) and was written by Rudyard Kipling. With multiple Disney versions already created for film, the time for spoilers is long past.

Where I’m from, 20 people in a movie theater on opening weekend for a big name movie is not only typical – it means the movie is doing fantastic. (If you didn’t know how small of a town I lived in – you do now…).  And it has an even better side-bonus. That bonus being prime seating when you opt for the big bucks to see a movie in 3D.

The whole reason to see this movie is the visuals. The beautiful CGI work blended very well with the location shots – but the locations themselves were phenomenal too. It was definitely a jungle you could get lost in (and wanted to be lost in…aaattt least until they lit it on fire). There were several iconic moments that were perfectly represented, such as Baloo and Mowgli singing “Bare Necessities” while floating down the river. Very nostalgic.

The tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) plot of the story is as follows if for some reason you’ve never heard the story: A small child named Mowgli gets left in the woods as a baby, raised by a pack of wolves and a black panther and gets into misadventures along the way to manhood.

Sometimes, I will focus on plot because let’s face it, plot is usually vital to a movie. But in this case, the plot is pretty basic and most people are probably already humming “Bare Necessities” as they read this (and if you weren’t, you are now – admit it).

So let’s focus on other aspects of the movie. The actors themselves, for the most part, did a fantastic job bringing these classic characters to life. Ben Kingsley’s gravelly voice was perfect for old Bagheera, the wise black panther and they couldn’t have found someone with a more menacing voice to play Shere Khan than Idris Elba. King Louie stole the show. Who here is surprised that Christopher Walken makes a fantastic Monkey Mob Boss? Anyone? Scarlett Johansson was a complete surprise to me, she would not have been one I pegged to play a talking, man-eating snake. But now that I think about it, the Black Widow had similar characteristics, so what do I know? She did a fabulous job and I left the theater hissing “Trust in me…” (I freely admit part of that was to annoy my sister that I dragged with me – being the youngest has its advantages).

The biggest disappointment for me was in the choice of Mowgli. Neel Sethi definitely looked the part and had the energy needed to play a small child running with a Wolf Pack. However, every time he opened his mouth, I felt like yelling “Swiper, no swiping,” because for some reason he seemed like a voice off of Dora the Explorer. Despite the irritating, over-the-top voice (especially for a barely 13 year old), he interacted well with the primarily CGI characters – which meant Jon Favreau must be doing something right, and was visually perfect for the role.

3D-wise, I’ve seen better. If it came down to it, I probably wouldn’t shell out the money for it again. There were some aspects that could have been made more 3D, like tumbling rocks, or hands grabbing. But then again, I don’t know the ins and outs of making a 3D movie and it’s possible that those are simply what I wish to see and not what the technology is capable of doing right now. I also hesitate to complain too much about lack of 3D because my eyes have a really hard time seeing it to begin with. It could be where I was in the theater, it could be the 3D glasses not sitting right on top of the other glasses that I need to make sure I don’t run into walls. So if you have a different opinion, please let me know!

At the end of every movie review, I will try to leave two different “overall” impressions geared toward both adult and children so that you can decide for yourself if you want to take your offspring to see it or not (or stomach sitting through it yourself).

Adults: An interesting take on the classic tale. If talking animals (and Dora the Explorer) don’t set you off, you will probably enjoy the movie for what it is. Kick back, relax, and sing along with ScarJo and Christopher Walken. Just save the trip down the nostalgic stream for when you have a few bucks to spare and don’t try to break the bank.

Kids: Do your parents a favor and let them sleep in. It’s fun, but there’s better out there to go see. It’s slightly more scary than the cartoon version and you’ll either be terrified of the fire or of the seriously ticked off tiger who tries to kill your favorite bear, Baloo. The monkeys are creepy too. So. Many. Monkeys.

P.S. Stick around for the credits, the 3D animation of book art is actually pretty amazing!

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