The classic Walt Disney animated film The Jungle Book was the last film Walt was involved in before his unfortunate death which left the studio's animated film legacy with chaotic void which wouldn't be filled again until The Little Mermaid. Now this live action film of the same story from this year deviates ever so slightly from the animated tale here and there, but the heart of it stays true to the original story. So Mowgli grows up with the wolves in the jungle, and Shere Khan the tiger desires nothing more than to kill the little "man cub." Thus he decides to leave the wolves, and Bagheera helps him find his way towards the man village, although there are stops along the way. Neel Sethi played Mowgli and did a very good job with a rather static character who is very young, and breathed some character growth into the role he played. Ben Kingsley as Bagheera was absolutely perfect; he sounded firm but with such calm and cool ageless wisdom as one would think a panther would possess. Bill Murray as Baloo was also perfect, such a great performance where he was funny, serious, intelligent, and of course humorous again. I almost wish he had been in the original, but that Baloo was perfect for that film. Idris Elba can play heroes, villains, adventurers, deep dramatic roles; this man is truly a talented individual with great depth in regards to his craft, and so of course his take on Shere Khan was fantastic! Lupita Nyong'o as Rakasha (Mowgli's wolf mother) was good, albeit rather static, but that wasn't really her fault. Scarlett Johansson as Kaa was surprisingly good despite the fact that originally it was a male character, but there is something extraordinarily hypnotic about her vocal performance which captured the character right on; definitely a good casting decision (even though I'm certain my sisters would disagree with me). Which leaves the great Christopher Walken as King Louie, and that of course needs no further elaboration. A most excellent cast was assembled, but let's not forget that these individuals were only half of the performance; the rest of performance needs to be credited to all of the extraordinarily talented special effects and animation experts who worked tirelessly to create such realistic and exceptional performances of all the characters these actors and actresses voiced. I take my hat off to them, for without their skills and talents this film would not have been possible.
Yes I very much enjoyed the film, and it was quite brilliant. Not only was director Jon Favreau able to capture the fun and enjoyment of the original animated classic, but he was also able to sweep up the beauty and deep mystical nature of Rudyard Kipling's writings. Justin Marks wrote the screenplay, and while the story and characters were further elaborated on and changed here and there, it was done tastefully and skillfully which is no easy task especially in Hollywood these days (as excellent writing seems more scarce than bountiful). But perhaps the star of the entire film was the exquisite cinematography by Bill Pope. All I have to really say is wow! The film was shot and it came out so stunning and breathtaking with all of the vistas, intimate shadows, and the darkest moments of the story. This is was definitely brought the film to such vivid life. John Debney composed the music, and he did a fair job at adapting the original score and then adding his own, and it wasn't too bad, but it wasn't that good either. My favorite part of the music was played during the credits with Scarlet Johannson singing "Trust In Me." I wasn't particularly fond of Bill Murray and Christopher Walken singing, but it seemed to work well in the film and the characters as well. I highly recommend this film, and the beautiful thing is you can watch it as a family, as a date film, with your parents and grandparents, and friends; Jon Favreau really did an impressive job breathing new life into this classic Disney story, although I'm not quite certain if he'll be able to duplicate his success with the apparent planned sequel. Disney and their sequel mania, it is quite ridiculous. Oh, by the way I will take this opportunity to state that freedom for people in Cuba and around the world scored a huge victory with the death of dictator Fidel Castro of Cuba. He was a brutal man, who ruled with an iron fist and was responsible for killing thousands and destroying the lives of millions over a span of 57 years. He will not be missed, and I have very little doubt that he will be paying for his butchery for the remainder of eternity. You see, finally some good news to report. :)
The Jungle Book intro to Shere Khan
The Jungle Book Cast Feature
Emerald City television show trailer (looks.....interesting maybe?)