So, tonight I’m going to be reviewing Disney’s newest rendition of “The Jungle Book,” which I just finished watching on Netflix (because I’m too cheap to keep going to a theater. LOL.). As an overall Disney fan, I loved it. The scenery and screenplay was awesome, and the little tidbits they added to make the story more interesting was both fascinating and mostly beneficial.
The filmmakers did an amazing job of choosing the setting, and how they shot the film. The cameras were in all the right places at all the right times; you felt as if, at times, you were actually Mowgli– whether it was tumbling down a wet, mud-slicked ravine to get away from Shere Khan, darting past trees, gazing into Kaa’s ominously mesmerizing eyes, or staring down Shere Khan.
Speaking of Kaa, I’m right glad that she (?) made only one appearance. (I totally called when she was going to make her (?) cue, even before the snakeskin discovery.), although I was genuinely surprised they decided to switch his gender to female. I suppose it was an effort to give Kaa a more seductive, more alluring sort of feel, with her (?) being all mesmerizing and “I’m-gonna-swallow-you-alive-and-whole,” sorta business. Still, the fact that hypnotism overall mortally terrifies me, and that I generally don’t like or trust snakes (the animals or the people) made me relieved that she (?) only made one appearance, rather than 2-3, as the original film portrayed.
The actor who played Mowgli did marvelous. Not only did he look like the original, but he acted like the original. I like how the directors played into Mowgli’s creativity even more at the end; this led to one of the few differences between the endings of the original Disney film and the live-action: Khan actually perishes in the fire, in the latter.
The story was excellent, as well, with a few tweaks. Aside from Khan’s death and Kaa making only one appearance (thank goodness), we have the watering hole truce (a nice story play-off, if I do say so myself), the monkeys kidnapping Mowgli at a slightly different time, King Louie being a Gigantopithecus (instead of an orangutan– most likely to emphasize his kingship, power and influence), Baloo using Mowgli to get down honeycomb rather than bananas, Khan trying to sway wolf pups to his side rather than their mother’s, the cut-out of Mowgli with the vultures when he’s down, the alteration of when Mowgli tries to join the elephants (he instead shows them a deep respect by bowing at different points in the story, and at one point uses an invention– rope– to help rescue a little elephant), and the fact that ultimately, Mowgli decides to stay in the jungle with his friends, since the threat of Khan has been eliminated. There is now no need for the man village, for the young girl to make her flirtatious entrance into Mowgli’s life. This, above all else, was one of the major storyline differences– and one of the few I’m not entirely sure I actually agree with. After all, if the man village is introduced, then forgotten, it is simply a red herring– a “rabbit trail” to make us go down with hope that it might, just might, be like the original film. There is no real point to having introduced it into the story if they are not going to do anything with it, unless they wanted to reference both Kipling’s book and the original, or wanted to use it as reference to Mowgli’s past. That aside, it serves no real purpose, since Mowgli remains in the jungle at the end, Bagheera content, and the main antagonist thwarted (but…. KAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
On to antagonists other than Kaa, Shere Khan was pure malignity. Note, not motiveless malignity, but malignity. He had motive– he was burned and scarred for life by his arch-nemesis’s dad. He had a goal– eliminate any human in the jungle, regardless of gender or age. He was not even a Machiavellian villain, but at the same time that was something that kind of worked in favor of making you love to hate him more– he not only wanted to kill Mowgli personally, but wanted to propagate the rest of the jungle into believing HIM– starting with the wolf pups Mowgli had grown up with. When he opened his mouth, I somehow expected a different voice from him, however– something more, I don’t know, suave, cool and yet deadly. The actor’s voice almost sounded a bit too upbeat for the job, IMO, but I guess it’s a challenge to voice a character like him.
One of my favorite characters was Bagheera. His no-nonsensical way of looking at life, dedication and loyalty to his friends, as well as his subtly dry sense of humor, reminded me immensely of Obi-Wan. ….Apologies, “Star Wars” fangirl in me just kicked in.
Anyways, I overall rate this film a 4.5 out of 5 stars, and would recommend any Disney, or even non-Disney, fans to watch it. You won’t be let down, and you can count on the “bare necessities” of the film to leave you on the edge of your seat, hankering for more.
Image Credit: http://www.readthespirit.com/visual-parables/the-jungle-book-2016/