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Review: The Jungle Book

(L-r) Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Neel Sethi and Lupita Nyong'o star in Walt Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK

As someone who loves originality, it’s not everyday that I’ll endorse a movie that’s a remake. They’re usually a waste of time and only serve as a way to make some money for the studios that are putting them out. Well, The Jungle Book is one of those rare exceptions for me. Not only is it a solid movie, it does something that even a good number of modern day original movies can’t do.

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1894’s The Jungle Book, this live action film tells the story of Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a pack of wolves since he was a baby. It seems that all he’s wants to do is fit in with his pack, but that’s been a difficult with him not being an actual wolf. But now his life becomes even harder when a tiger named Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba) starts threatening the lives of all that Mowgli loves. This begins an adventure for the man-cub that dares to teach about himself and what he has to be in life.

It’s great that The Jungle Book allows fans of the original to connect with something that they formed a bond with years before. Even while doing that, it’s also a picture that newer fans can get into. This is a mix that many modern day movies aim for since so many of them are remakes or are based on existing properties. To be able to capture that is a huge plus that will leave most happy.

Obviously this is an element that’s proven to be imperative to the sort of filmmaking that we see far too frequently in this era of cinema. Since much of what we’re being given is what many of us already know, it’s important to bring something that many are familiar with. To make this standout from previous incarnations, doing it in a fashion that offers something new has the potential to attract more than repel. While I would prefer something completely fresh, this doesn’t take away from the overall quality of this version of The Jungle Book.

What we have in this version of The Jungle Book is a film that is constantly engaging. Because there’s always something going on, it doesn’t ever feel as if it’s lingering hanging on longer than it should. It’s a quick 100 or so minutes that does just about everything it needs to do in order to satisfy its audience. That’s big when you think about it, because even films based in original stories seem to be overstuffed and overextended for no actual reason.

The level of engagement seen with The Jungle Book is one of the main reasons for its success. That and its desire to actually entertain are why I can recommend this film for people who are familiar with it and viewers who don’t know much about it. If it wasn’t for those factors, it wouldn’t have mattered how faithful they stayed to the story since that could have led it to be as bad as something like Pan.

As far as family friendly entertainment, The Jungle Book is not close to something that you’ll regret taking the time to see. While it may not end up being the best children’s film this year, it’s certainly worth giving it a look at some point. That’s primarily due to it being a fun movie that benefits from quality acting while also being able to blend the old and the new.

Rating: PG

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast:
Bill Murray
Ben Kingsley
Idris Elba
Lupita Nyong’o
Scarlett Johansson
Giancarlo Esposito
Neel Sethi
Christopher Walken

Film Length: 106 minutes

Release Date: April 15, 2016

Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

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