by Kailee Maeda
One of the most highly anticipated films of the year was none other than Disney’s The Jungle Book. Directed by the very well known, Jon Favreau (Swingers, Iron Man), The Jungle Book takes the audience along side the man cub, Mowgli, as he ventures through the jungle attempting to find safety. With a cast filled with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, the audience is granted a unique experience as each actor comes to life on screen through the computer generated characters. This film, based on Rudyard Kipling’s story and Disney’s classic animated version, is a thrilling live-action adventure that includes amazing technological advances, creating a truly remarkable visual experience.
The Jungle Book sticks fairly close to the original plot, although, it includes a much darker feel compared to the animated version. There are lives lost, and much more realistically violent battle scenes. However, these are balanced with the familiarity of the original musical compositions. During the film the audience follows the adventures of Mowgli, a man cub who has been raised by a family of wolves. However, when a dangerous and powerful tiger known as, Shere Khan, begins to see him as a threat, Mowgli must find sanctuary elsewhere. The cast for this film is very impressive. It includes GOlden Globe winner Idris Elba as the voice of Shere Khan, Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley as the voice of Bagheera, comedian Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo, screen beauty Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Kaa, cult icon Christopher Walken as the voice of King Louie, Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of Raksha, and character actor Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of Akela.
The only actor that is human on screen is newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli the man cub; the rest are represented through photorealistic computer generated animals. The visual aspects of this film are absolutely jaw dropping; I felt as if I was submerged into the jungle right beside Mowgli. The vibrant colors of the scenery, as well as the photorealistic computer generated animals truly give the audience a one of a kind movie going experience. I was also amazed to discover that the entire film was shot on a set, rather than on location. The blend of the photorealism of the CGI technology with the action in this film is so perfect that the audience is misguided into thinking the setting is an actual jungle. The Jungle Book combines advanced cinema technology and storytelling with live-action adventure, creating a truly amazing film.
This film was most definitely a cinematic success in my eyes. Perhaps, most of this is due to the expensive technology that was used to create the extravagant visuals. Nonetheless, this revamped version of Rudyard Kipling’s, The Jungle Book, is one of the many true successes of Disney. A 3D version of this film was offered as well, however, I decided to watch the normal version because as a rule I do not like 3D films. It was absolutely captivating. I found myself whisked back to my childhood. Hearing the original songs played through the amazing theatre speakers only helped to enhance my experience. The sound production also had an immense impact on the film’s overall success. Everything from atmosphere sounds to the roars of the many animals in the jungle were vibrant and full of life. And the action sequences were made all the more realistic through the careful production of sound effects. As an audience member I was able to hear every single detail of the fights; sharp claws, snarls, screams, etc. In one particular scene there is a fire in the jungle, and I swear the crackling of the flames appear to be licking at your ear lobes. Other sound effects that particularly impressed me were, the sounds of the water in the river, the rain, and the precise difference in footsteps for each character, whether they be paws, hooves, or whatever. Overall, this film definitely thrived on sound and photorealistic technology.
If you’re a fan of all things Disney or Rudyard Kipling’s creations, I would strongly recommend seeing this film. If you’re not particularly a fan of either, but you enjoy action films, I would still highly recommend giving this film a chance. The Jungle Book is a perfect combination of an action-based adventure, with a true family feel to it. In my opinion, The Jungle Book is enjoyable for all ages and it’s rated PG. Overall, there is no question that this film will take its place among Disney’s many classics.