There are some trends that should have never been started. Drinking everything out of mason jars, paying more to look poor (also known as dressing hipster), the “starter pack” meme that got way out of hand, and the list continues. However, the trend of making old Disney movies into live-action spin-offs turned out to be well appreciated as they deserve to be. They take beloved classics that have had an imprint in our lives but use it to address current themes and issues through a modern twist. Disney’s new experiment has been lucrative for them, and The Jungle Book is another successful cinema to be added on to the list. Within five days, The Jungle Book seems to be on the road to making film history. It has gotten a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, with fans and critics alike saying it is one of the year’s best blockbuster. If this film review website gave the movie a 94%, then is has to be good. Nevertheless, statistics and critical reviews never give a clear picture. So, I decided to watch the movie to see if it lives up to its hype.
I reached the theater, and I felt a rush. I don’t know whether it was because I was about to see a movie that has been called the future of CGI (computer-generated imagery) filmmaking or because I was at the movie theater on a school night. I didn’t know what to expect since the only thing I had to compare it to was the original movie I saw when I was about five. Bringing along my partner in crime, my dear mother, we were ready to watch.
I refuse to lie when I am reviewing a movie, so I must admit that I cried about twenty minutes in. The characters had depth, which I will always be grateful to Disney for. As an audience member, I forgot that, besides Mowgli (Neel Sethi), all the animals were animation and not actual animals. My mother and I watched it in 3D, but the extra three dollars were not necessarily worth it. The cinematography was fantastic, and it captured nature and its magnificent beauty, and it was done adequate enough that two-dimensional viewing would have been just as fine. The action-packed thriller kept me wondering, “He’s not going to die, is he? ‘Bare Necessities’ hasn’t even played yet.” Disney has never been the one to give their characters an easy out. They give them a situation and have their characters use perseverance, courage, and a pure heart to get out of it. The same is applicable to this flick. The tale is great for kids because it shows the journey of growing up and finding strength and individuality.
I am glad I brought my mom because unlike me, she tells it like it is. Growing up in India, her version of The Jungle Book, more closely observes the plotline of the original movie. Even the messages of both movies are different. This version of the movie had some funny moments, but the original film was more comedic in its dialogues because that is what growing up is. It’s funny. This movie focused on the drama of the story and took advantage of the setting to address issues that are parallel with today’s society. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but a take-away is that this movie is not for those who want to embark on nostalgic memories of their childhood. This is a modern take on the story and its characters, and offers a new Mowgli onto our lives.
It is not the perfect movie. There were some cheesy lines, and Sethi’s acting seemed a little dull to me (but I am going to cut him some slack because he makes up for it by being adorable and looking a lot like Mowgli from the animated 1967 movie). However, it is a movie that deserves all its stellar reviews. From Bill Murray’s comic timing in the form of a bear that lives life on shortcuts to the booming action, this movie is probably on the top ten list of best Disney movies in the recent years.