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The Jungle Book Film Review

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My favourite Disney movie of all time is Hercules. My favourite Disney princess is Ariel. My VCR knew those VHS cassettes so well. Never once did it get to taste The Jungle Book, which is something I regretted for a long time. I was excited when I saw the trailer for the new, live-action version and I even pretended my best to sing along to “Bare Necessities,” knowing I’d never actually heard the song in entirety.

If you're unfamiliar with the plot, it’s quite simple. Mowgli, a prepubescent human, lives as a member of the wolf pack in the jungle. He was brought to the wolves by Bagheera, a panther, and is protected by him and a wolf mother, Raksha, and the pack. There is peace in the jungle since the dry season has revealed the Peace Rock, which exists at the bottom of the river and is only visible if water levels are extremely low. According to the Law of the Jungle, during peace, no animals are in danger of dying at the hands of other animals and everyone is free to drink from the same watering hole without the threat of being hunted. A tiger named Shere Khan appears at the watering hole and smells something peculiar — a “man cub.” When Mowgli is revealed to him, he decides that there will not be peace unless Mowgli is handed over to him. It’s later revealed that Shere Khan, whose face is badly burned on one side, received his scar killing Mowgli’s father. Bagheera and Baloo, a lazy bear that Mowgli meets in the jungle, make it their mission to protect Mowgli from Shere Khan and guide him to the “man village” where he’ll be safe from Shere Khan.

Let’s discuss the cast, shall we? STAR STUDDED. With the exception of young Neel Sethi, who stars as the main character, Mowgli, the cast of The Jungle Book reads of the who’s who of Hollywood.

The impeccable Ben Kingsley stars as Bagheera, Mowgli’s panther guardian and the closest thing Mowgli’s ever known to a father. I almost thought he was Sir Patrick Stewart, but I was not disappointed when I realised it was Kingsley.

I immediately recognised Shere Khan’s voice as Idris Elba’s and was pleasantly surprised once more. It’s quite deep and menacing and makes for a good villain.

Who doesn't love Lupita N’Yongo? She voices Raksha, Mowgli’s wolf mother. Her voice is so comforting. I couldn't place it at first and I didn't realise it until the credits that she was Raksha. But I just remember wishing my mother’s voice sounded like that. It’s THAT good; the type of voice that you want to ask “What’s wrong?” so you can break down with your ugly cry and unburden yourself in a long embrace.

The enchanting Scarlett Johansson makes an appearance as Kaa, a hypnotising boa constrictor that almost kills Mowgli once he’s alone in the jungle.

King Louie, a giant orangutan and king of primates, is voiced by the legendary Christopher Walken. I could pick his voice out of a crowd. He even did a song. I was so happy to see that he’s still working. I think I imagined that he retired.

Finally, Baloo, Mowgli’s newest favourite companion, is voiced by BILL MURRAY! I almost screamed when the bear opened his mouth for the first time. I love Bill Murray! As a kid I loved Charlie’s Angels (where he played Bosley) and Osmosis Jones (where his body was the one under attack).

This movie literally had me in tears…on three separate occasions! It’s THAT good. Although the simple story line was easy to follow, it’s a story worth telling to all age groups. I feel people of all ages would enjoy this movie. As I sat in the theatre, I saw grown men sitting with their wives and children sing along every word and quote the Law of the Jungle like they were eight years old again. This story resonates with young and old and is extremely entertaining! The CGI effects are stunning. The visuals are seamless. Jon Favreau’s live jungle was almost entirely created with computers, making his adaptation of The Jungle Book a true big-screen spectacle to behold!

I think I was able to appreciate this version so much because I had nothing to compare it to. I didn’t go in with any expectations at all, so I’m sure that worked in Jon Favreau’s favour because his movie blew me away.

Five stars for the 2016 adaptation of The Jungle Book. There were plenty of laughs, tears (happy and sad), and silent inner screams (either from terror or victory). The A-list cast just makes it that much better, and the effects are so magical, I could almost watch the entire movie on mute. I caught it in 3D. I recommend you do the same! AND FAST.

Marcus Garlington lives at Liberty Court in London, he is from Kansas City in Missouri, and is in his 2nd year studying Journalism at City University London.

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