The call of the wild. Getting back to nature. How wonderful it is to be in the great outdoors. Fresh air. No pollution. Real animals. Pity it’s all fake in the truly fantastic adaptation of Disney’s very own “The Jungle Book”.
Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a man child surviving in the Indian jungle being cared for by a pack of wolves led by Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Mowgli’s “mother” Raksha (Lupito Nyongo) . The tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) is on the hunt for the man cub and will stop at nothing till he has his revenge.
Technology in movies can be a fickle thing. As time goes by it becomes dated and just plain silly (Demolition Man anyone?!). The Jungle Book on the other hand looks so real, it even brings into disrepute the authenticity of Kim Kardashians butt. It’s hard to imagine that all of the action was filmed against green screen at LA Center Studios in downtown Los Angeles and not in the tropical jungle of India.
The performances are a breath of fresh of air as well. Neel Sethi as Mowgli provides such an earnest portrayal, it is hard to believe that this is his first ever major performance apart from a voice role in the short animation – Diwali. The only issue is hearing an American accent coming from an Indian boy. It seems so out-of-place that one expects a big brass band draped in an American flag to start singing Star Spangled Banner in the middle of the jungle setting.
Finally, the voice actors also provide excellent renditions of their characters. The standouts would have to be Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Bill Murray as Baloo and Christopher Walken as King Louie. The only down side is Sir Ben Kingsley as Bagheera the panther. His portrayal is so boring that it seems that he half heartedly slurred his lines after being awoken by smelling salts from a semi-permanent comatose, in the recording booth.
From start to finish The Jungle Book is a technological marvel to behold. Coupled with a truly riveting story line and engaging characters I would highly recommend viewing this film. It will definitely have you tapping your feet, crying in your coffee and wanting to run off and join the nearest wolf pack at the local city zoo. I give this 4/5 chillies – so spicy an Indian boy with an American accent can stomach it.