Monday, April 11, 2016

Movie Review: The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book: A Captivating and Enthralling Cinematic Experience
 
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The Story Frame:

Mowgli is an orphan boy left at the mercy of the deep woods because of some unpleasant happenings, is raised by Raksha and Akela (the wolf couple) and is mentored and protected by Bagheera, the black panther.  Mowgli is mentored to adopt the ways of the wolves but he finds quite challenging to do away with his human tricks and ways to survive in the forest. The film is a series of happenings when Shere Khan, the ferocious Bengal Tiger questions and challenge the presence of a human cub in the jungle because it is against the law of the jungle. Shere Khan is hell bent to take revenge as he has his own story of being a victim of human's dubious and evil nature. Along with the aforementioned characters there are an ensemble of interesting inhabitants like Kaa, Baloo, King Louie to keep the viewers glued to their seats. The Jungle Book's hate story begins with the 'Red Flower' and also ends with the 'Red Flower'. What is it? Why it is dreadful and at same time powerful one need to watch.

Jon Favreau, the ace director and the Screenplay writer Justin Marks offer us a visually captivating and thoroughly entertaining film which is a technical marvel aided by CGI and Motion-Capture Technology. The voice cast both in English and the dubbed Hindi version are noteworthy and makes the movie worth watching. The film is produced by Walt Disney Pictures and is based on Rudyard Kipling's classic children's story. It is a film for all age group. If you want to experience a central Indian jungle with a riveting and gripping story, then do not miss it.   


Cast: Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Ritesh Rajan (Mowgli's Father)

Voice Cast (English & Hindi): Ben Kingsley & Om Puri (Bagheera), Bill Murray & Irrfan Khan (Baloo), Idris Elba & Nana Patekar (Shere Khan), Lupita Nyong'o & Shefali Shah (Raksha), Scarlett Johansson & Priyanka Chopra (Kaa), Giancarlo Esposito & Rajesh Khattar (Akela), Christopher Walken & Bugs Bhargava (King Louie)

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

Direction: Jon Favreau

Produced by: Jon Favreau, Brigham Taylor

Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures, Fairview Entertainment

Written by: Justin Marks

Based on: Disney's The Jungle Book, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Cinematographer: Bill Pope

Music: John Debney

Film Editing by: Mark Livolsi

Distributors : Walt Disney Studios, Motion Pictures

Theatre Release: 8th April, 2016

Language: English & dubbed in Hindi

Duration: 105 minutes

 
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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Disney's 'The Jungle Book' brings back the playful child in you. Even when you watch the human-cub 'Mowgli', the only human amongst seemingly ferocious but friendly jungle folks, you don't feel sorry for him but rather join in the fun with him with the help of the 3D glasses you have worn sitting in the darkness of your theatre munching popcorns. Jon Favreau's film is and will continue to be a long cinematic celebration for both the kids and the grown up for the next couple of weeks or perhaps for many months/years. He brought alive on the screen the most iconic animal characters of Rudyard Kipling's timeless stories, which we as Indians have grown up reading it as our staple entertainment input as kids . Neel Sethi, the American-Indian Child Actor has done a commendable work as Mowgli in this fantasy adventure film. He is terrifically convincing in his act as Mowgli and it is incredible to know that all the characters around him that we see on screen was not their while shooting. There are moments you may feel to walk, run, and swing arms with this young boy, who is indeed a powerhouse of talent.

In the lush green dense forest you find a red loincloth clad young child running through the thickets and sometimes hoping and swinging through branches of trees with a bunch of wolves and a black panther behind him trying to get closer and out do him. And when you sit with your mouth agape you find Mowgli bursting into laughter saying he won the race to the dismay of a pack of young wolves not approving his claim saying that he was not supposed to climb the trees. The ever caring Mowgli's mentor Bagheera (Voice cast: Ben Kingsley & Om Puri) the  black panther chides him saying he is not trying to learn the ways of the wolves and is stuck up with human ways and tricks. Mowgli who was  left behind alone in the jungle found by Bagheera is raised by a pack of wolves in the jungle. He is liked by almost everyone in the jungle except by the menacing Shere Khan (Voice cast: Idris Elba & Nana Patekar). Shere Khan is not ready to settle for less, other than Mowgli's  pound of flesh because he has an old score to settle with Mowgli's father who in a bid to escape from the attack of Shere Khan had to fight with him with the deadly 'Red Flower' (fire) which left Shere Khan partially blind and scarred for rest of his life.  
 
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On one hand, when you savour the visual treat Jon Favreau offers you using CGI and motion-capture technology, you also go through a gripping story of Mowgli's struggle for survival and his fight with every possible danger hidden in the jungle. The 'water truce' declared because of the drought reveals the existence of a human-cub in the jungle to many animals. The animals are terrified by Shere Khan's threat to avenge his hurt and to hand over Mowgli to him as per the jungle's law, if not, be prepared to sacrifice their life. The mother-wolf Raksha's (Voice cast: Lupita Nyong'o and Shefali Shah) plea to Shere Khan to let her son (Mowgli) alone because he is one among the pack of wolves is unheard and not taken in the right stride. Akela (Voice cast: Giancarlo Esposito and Rajesh Khattar)  the head of the wolves also quieten her to ease the volatile situation. Being aware about the threat looming large over each one of them, Mowgli decides to leave his jungle and dear folks to retreat back to human settlements outside the forest. The parting of Mowgli and Raksha is heartrending. Escorted by the most trusted friend and fatherly figure Bagheera, Mowgli moves deeper into the jungle which he had never attempted before.
 
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Mowgli's departure, leaving behind his near and dear friends in search of human settlement leads to a series of fatal and scary attempts on his life. His encounter with the hypnotic and mesmerizing python Kaa, (Voice cast: Scarlet Johansson and Priyanka Chopra)  though has less screen time but it is too engaging and keeps you glued to your seat with your head held back to the farthest from the hissing Kaa. The movie becomes light-hearted by the entry of the shaggy and sloth bear Baloo (Voice cast: Bill Murray and Irrfan Khan) as Mowgli's guardian angel. It is real fun to the hilt to watch the budding friendship between Baloo and Mowgli and  Baloo's innocent ways of lying to get his work done by the gullible Mowgli. Bill Murray's and Irrfan Khan's dialogue-delivery are so apt to the character of Baloo that they stay with you even after the movie.  
 
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The thrilling experience we go through as viewers is when Mowgli is kidnapped and whisked off by a pack of dare-devil monkeys to the den of King Louie (Voice cast: Christopher Walker and Bugs Bhargava) a Gigantopithecus, a giant ape that lives in an abandoned magnificent temple, which he has made into his royal abode. The scene that follows within the temple and how Bagheera and Baloo manages to reach the top of the cliff to rescue their mentee and friend is worth watching. Why does King Louie get him kidnapped? What does he want from a human cub?

Mowgli's challenge doesn't end there because King Louie tells him a secret that is guarded from him by Bagheera and Baloo. What is it? And why Mowgli decides to tread back to his old folks and that too with the dreadful 'Red Flower'. What awaits him there? Does Shere Khan settle score with Mowgli? Does Bagheera's advise to Mowgli that he isn't a wolf and should, therefore, fight back like a human at the most crucial moment of Mowgli's life save him?

Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book makes the whole movie an awesome cinematic experience and it will not be an exaggeration to say that this movie is truly one of the best movies to reach the cinema theatres in recent times. A perfect cast of ace actors both Hollywood and Bollywood rendering voice to the inhabitants of the jungle clubbed with CGI technology is mind blowing and thorough entertainer for all age group. The beauty of the movie is once you are in 'The Jungle Book' you would not want to come out of it. It is indeed enchanting!

In short, as the Law of the Jungle says - 'For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack' is relevant to us as well today when we find innumerable trivial reasons to divide ourselves and fall prey to hatred and distrust in our society.   

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5