The Jungle Book 2016 | Movie Review

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🎥 Cinematography by Bill Pope

👗 Costumes by Laura Jean Shannon

🎬 Directed by Jon Favreau

🎞 Edited by Mark Livolsi

🎼 Music by John Debney

📋 Produced by Brigham Taylor & Jon Favreau

📝 Screenplay by Justin Marks

🌟 S T A R R I N G

🐺 Asher Blinkoff, Chloe Hechter, Emjay Anthony, Kai & Sasha Schrieber, Knox Gagnon, & Max Favreau as the young wolves

🐆 Ben Kingsley as Bagheera

🐻 Bill Murray as Baloo

🐺 Brighton Rose as Grey Brother

🦧 Christopher Walken as King Louie

🦔 Garry Shandling as Ikki

🐺 Giancarlo Esposito as Akela

🐅 Idris Elba as Shere Khan

🐗 Jon Favreau as Fred

🐺 Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha

🦏 Madeleine Favreau as Raquel

👦🏽 Neel Sethi as Mowgli | Kendrick Reyes as toddler Mowgli

👨🏽 Ritesh Rajan as Mowgli’s father

🦏 Russell Peters as Rocky

🐿 Sam Raimi as an Indian giant squirrel

🦌 Sara Arrington as a Nilgai

🐍 Scarlett Johansson as Kaa

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I hope you’re not sick of CGI animals because the next Disney remake on my review list is The Jungle Book from 2016. This was my 2nd viewing:

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This particular castle intro is not jungle-themed . . . at first! The blue castle is surrounded by a Disney theme park. Once the fireworks go off, the camera starts to pan out, & the moat transitions into a river as a jungle comes into view along with the title “The Jungle Book.”

• I need you to be prepared for a review that’s mostly me raving about how pretty the movie looks. 😂 Seriously though, it looks like a nature documentary. Absolutely stunning! As if the setting wasn’t enough, the animals blow my mind. The special effects team did such a great job making the talking mouths look natural without affecting the integrity of the other features. They look like real animals who are talking!

 Mowgli’s wolf guardians change a little bit between the two versions. In the 1967 film, he’s raised by Raksha & her mate Rama, & Akela is their pack leader. In the 2016 film, he’s raised by Raksha with the help of her pack & their leader Akela.

• Lupita Nyong’o is the voice of Raksha, & the motherly tenderness & protectiveness she injects into the role is spot on. Giancarlo Esposito is the voice of Akela, & he’s fantastic as usual. My brain is just so confused because the last time I saw him onscreen, he was dealing drugs out of Los Pollos Hermanos. 😂

• Mowgli & his wolf siblings call Raksha “Ami” which means “Mother” in Urdu, a language spoken in Pakistan & India. I think that’s such a sweet detail & a way to educate viewers about another culture. Like me, someone will hear the word, use the subtitles for spelling, & google it for more information. Boom! You know a new word in a different language. 🇵🇰 🇮🇳

• Let’s talk about Disney cats. Everybody knows about Berlioz, Cheshire, Figaro, Lucifer, Marie, Oliver, Rajah, Simba, Tigger, Toulouse, etc. The list goes on! But the one cat I hear so little about is Bagheera. Number one, he’s a black panther. Awesome! Number two, he’s wise, a serious guardian to balance out Baloo as the fun parent. He deserves way more hype & attention!

• I need to prepare you for the shocking news I’m about to deliver. Are you ready? Idris Elba was perfect casting. LOL! He could literally play a paper bag, & I would be applauding from the front row, calling for an Oscar. 🏆 Focus! Back to The Jungle Book. Idris plays the villainous tiger Shere Khan, & his deep voice will send shivers down your spine. Whether that’s because you’re scared or attracted to him is between you & God. 😂 😂 😂

• Neel Sethi deserves so much praise for what he did with the role of Mowgli. Not only did he do a great job as a young newcomer but also as the only person acting on set. He had to imagine all those talking animals while emoting & conversing. That’s tough to do as an adult, & he took on the challenge under the age of thirteen. Brava! 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻

• I’ve seen this movie before, & Shere Khan’s attack on Bagheera still scared the life out of me. 😰

• Leading up to the release, Scarlett Johansson was one of the cast members I was unsure about. I didn’t mind the change of a female voice for Kaa, but I just couldn’t picture Scarlett as the reticulated python that tries to hypnotize & eat Mowgli. Thankfully my fears were swiftly laid to rest. She was featured in only one scene rather than two but did a good job with the voice & made an impression in a small amount of time. No weak link here!

• I realize I’ve gone down the list & one by one said how great each actor was in this film. Seriously though, this cast is airtight. Continuing with the high praise, Bill Murray was genius casting as Baloo the bear. His energy & humor are perfect for Mowgli’s Papa Bear. Soon after they meet, Baloo convinces Mowgli to climb where the big bear cannot & retrieve honey from a beehive. Two curious animals show up, an Indian giant squirrel voiced by Sam Raimi & a pangolin with an unknown voice. They get a little too chatty for Baloo so he looks at them & retorts “You have never been a more endangered species than you are at this moment.” Definitely a laugh out loud moment! 😂

• At the 49:30 mark, Mowgli is sitting atop a floating Baloo while they sing The Bare Necessities, & the river scenery is absolutely breathtaking. It looks like a painting, specifically one created by Thomas Kinkade. He actually has a Jungle Book painting from 2012. 🎨

• One early morning Baloo & Bagheera catch Mowgli sneaking away to a pit surrounded by elephants. They’re disappointed at first because they think he’s messing with the large pachyderms. To their surprise he pops out of the pit & guides the retrieval of a baby elephant using long vines. The look of pride on their faces is the cherry on top of an incredibly sweet moment. 💕

As someone with a fear of heights, I sympathize with Baloo having to climb a long way up to King Louie’s temple. About halfway up he mutters “A bird. That can’t be a good sign!” Another LOL moment from Mr. Murray! It’s also a sweet moment because Bagheera takes pity on the big bear & encourages him the rest of the way. These two are opposites in personality, but their friendship works because of that balance. They also provide loads of hilarious banter!

• If you’re interested in Onomatology or Zoology, I’ve got you covered. The following characters have meaningful names, & their species are native to India where The Jungle Book takes place:

🐺 Akela | Akela अकेला means alone in Hindi | Indian Wolf

🐆 Bagheera | Baghirā means Black Indian Leopard in Hindi | Black Indian Leopard

🐻 Baloo | Bhālū भालू means bear in Hindi | Himalayan Brown Bear

🐺 Raksha | Raksha रक्षा means defense/protection/safeguard in Hindi | Indian Wolf

🐅 Shere Khan | Shair/Sher means lion & tiger in Urdu & Persian + Khan is a title given in various parts of Asia | Bengal Tiger

🐗 🦔 🐍 Other represented species include Fred the pygmy hog, Ikki the Indian porcupine, Kaa the reticulated python, Raquel & Rocky the Indian Rhinos, an Indian giant squirrel, & a Nilgai. 🦏 🐿 🦌

• I didn’t know I needed Christopher Walken as a giant ape in my life, but here we are. King Louie wants only one thing from Mowgli: the secret of how to make fire which is known as “The Red Flower.” In this adaptation he is bigger & scarier, much more of a villain than his animated counterpart. The 1967 Louie was a petty thief in comparison to the 2016 Louie who is basically a dangerous crime boss.

• The only two musical numbers that made the transition from the 60s to 2010s were The Bare Necessities & I Wanna be Like You. Jon Favreau was honest early on that this would be less of a musical film than its predecessor. I appreciate that he had a vision & stuck with it, not forcing the musical aspect. The songs worked where they were placed, & it never felt like there needed to be more than there was.

• Remember the adorable baby elephant that was rescued from a pit? After Mowgli defeats Shere Khan, he rides on the back of his small pachyderm friend. Love that continuity! The sounds of trumpeting elephants can be heard in the background as they celebrate the triumphant victory & use the river to put out the rest of the fire. Elephants are revered in the jungle so this show of respect towards Mowgli is high praise indeed. It all started with one act of kindness. *sigh* That’s storytelling at its finest. 📖

• At the very end of the movie, the shot of Bagheera, Baloo, & Mowgli sitting in a tree turns into an illustration, & the book, which is resting on blue velvet material, closes. Music shakes the book back open, & all the characters make an appearance in 3D pop-up form, some stepping out of the book & going offscreen. King Louie is the first to appear, being dug out of the temple rubble & singing a reprise of I Wanna be Like You. The first part of this sequence was inspired by the opening of the 1967 movie: A book entitled “The Jungle Book” lays on top of blue velvet material & opens to reveal an illustration. Gotta love those Disney details! 

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🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Critics | 86% Audience

🏆 Major AwardsBest Visual Effects Oscar (Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, Dan Lemmon, & Robert Legato)

❓ Original or Remake: Do I even have to say it? The original movie is good, but the 2016 film is a masterpiece, a feast for the eyes supported by a brilliant cast. This is a no-brainer decision: Remake!

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4qgAaxB_pc

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🎥 Stay tuned for another movie review tomorrow! 🍿

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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