‘The Jungle Book’ gets an upgrade

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David Thompson

This CGI-filled, 1960s Disney movie remake is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. Not only does “The Jungle Book” satisfy fans of the original movie, but gives this generation a new reason to fall in love with beloved characters including Baloo and Mowgli. “The Jungle Book” hits all of the beats that the original did while adding a bit more seriousness and a darker tone.

The film opens on fairly grim note, showing the audience how this movie is not a word-for-word remake of the original. The one relationship which resembles the original movie the most is Baloo and Mowgli’s budding friendship. The casting of Bill Murray to voice act as Baloo was a great decision as Murray nails the lovable brown bear, especially in a scene where Mowgli is sitting on Baloo’s belly while floating down the river belting out “Bare Necessities.”

Director Jon Favreau does an excellent job helping young actor Neel Sethi playthe main protagonist Mowgli, who spends the whole movie talking to animated animals and adventuring an animated jungle. Mowgli seemingly has great chemistry with all the animals, especially with his father-figure Bagheera, a black panther voiced by Ben Kingsley. While not giving away too much, Bagheera helped raise Mowgli and his highest priority is keeping the man-cub safe.  The wolves are also a big part of this movie, due to Mowgli’s identity crisis between human and wolf. There is an emotional moment between Raksha, the mother wolf voiced by Lupita Nyong’o and Mowgli, showing their mother-son bond. Here, Favreau does a great job of pulling on the audience’s heart strings.

The big antagonist of “The Jungle Book” is the frightening, one-eyed, Shere Khan, a bengal tiger voiced by Idris Elba. When you first meet Shere Khan he comes across as a typical villain who is paper thin. Over the course of the movie you see his backstory and can see why he is doing such terrible things to Mowgli and company.

Those voicing the supporting characters are equally as good as those playing the main characters. Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, an Indian Pythonv and Christopher Walken as King Louie, a giant ape standing around 12 feet tall. Both of these characters have limited roles in the film, especially Kaa, who appears in only one seen and 90 percent of her lines are heard in the trailers. King Louie has a bigger role, including a musical number that seems a little out of place and doesn’t stay true to the tone of the rest of the movie.

King Louie’s musical number is one of my few complaints about the movie. In addition, the film starts off a little too slow and, while it does give the audience plenty of time to get to know Mowgli, it movie could’ve been cut by at least 10 minutes had Favreau jumped off to a faster start and hadn’t taken so long to introduce Baloo, the film’s best character who doesn’t appear for nearly and hour.

To say I there are parts of this movie I didn’t like is a reach. My eyes were stuck on the screen from start to finish. Favreau did “The Jungle Book” justice in this 2016 installment. The CGI in this movie is the best I have ever seen. To think that this entire movie was shot in Los Angeles is truly unbelievable. There is never a shot in the movie that looks “fake” and all on the animals look absolutely real. “The Jungle Book” will please fans of the 1960s classic and keep the whole audience entertained for all 111 minutes. I give “The Jungle Book” 4 out of 5 paws.