Number 1000!!! – Friday, October 28th - Larry H. publishes his one thousandth movie review 1997-2022
  
The Jungle Book
Released:  April 4, 2016
Would British writer Rudyard Kipling turn over in his grave if he saw this movie version of his 1894 collection of stories known as The Jungle Book?  Well; yes, he would do a 360, but he would be full of glee as this Computer Generated film about the young boy named Mowgli who was raised by a loving pack of wolves is a technological masterpiece.  And the themes of human relationships and the relationship everyone has with nature are still as relevant today as they were in the 19th century. 
 
Neel Sethi is the breakout star as Mowgli.  Neel was born in 2003 and is an Indian-American, but he is originally from New York City.  This will not be his last acting gig.  He is delightful and believable as the wayward man-cub raised in the jungle and the audience understands that he is a survivor while he deeply respects the “The Law of the Jungle.”
 
Unfortunately for Mowgli’s seemingly comfortable existence with his devoted wolf mother, Raksha (voice by Lupita Nyong’o), and his siblings who are actual wolf cubs, there is an evil tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who is determined to eliminate this human from his jungle.  Mowgli bravely leaves the pack with the conflicted goal of a journey to the Man Village.
 
While on this treacherous and eventful excursion, he runs into a bear named Baloo superbly voiced by Bill Murray with just the right touch of his patented dry wit and understatement.  Baloo and Mowgli bond over a mission to obtain honey from a beehive on a cliff.  Ben Kingsley is perfect as the sympathetic and wise panther (Baghera) who shadows young Mowgli on his fateful trip through the jungle.
 
Perhaps the voice star is Christopher Walken as King Louie - the giant ape.  The basic story has not changed since the 1967 movie version, but in the 60’s they did not have big-time actors lending their voices to an animated film.  Director Jon “Chef” Favreau had a star-studded cadre of talent at his disposal including Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the snake, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela, the leader of the wolf pack, and Gary Shandling as Ikki the porcupine.  Shandling died March 24, 2016.
 
Favreau and his team of visual and digital artists have made a movie for the ages.  I saw “The Jungle Book” in 3D and it was fantastic.  I ducked more than once as an eagle or other animal was flying off the screen into my theatre seat.   Visually this film is breathtaking. 
 
But my favorite part of the movie was the song  “I Wan’na Be Like You” sung by Christopher Walken in a style that only Walken can do.  It’s still bouncing around in my head.
Have fun with “The Jungle Book.”   Hey, Mr. Kipling, you can turn back over now; all is well.  Rock ‘n Roll.
 
Grade 90.  Larry H.
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