Thursday, 28 April 2016

A Few Words Away From Greatness


It's been a dreadfully dull and wet afternoon, so I sneaked off to the cinema yet again and went to see the Disney movie The Jungle Book. (The Prof would never EVER pay to see a Disney movie)
He in in London today where it is cold and damp too.

From the get-go The Jungle Book is a stunning experience. With GCI animals, beautiful locations and a confident child actor, actor/director  Jon Favreau has crafted a much darker and faithful looking-to- the-original adventure story, that at times literally transports you into the India, you just know Kipling would have filmed if he had computer software back in 1894)

It is, quite simply, magnificent to look at with several set pieces- a buffalo stampede (stolen shamelessly from The Lion King) and  the opening chase sequence being standouts.


Early on in the movie, even though he follows the 1967 cartoon plot, it is clear that Favreau wanted to be faithful to the original stories which relied heavily on the animal folklore and emphasis on drama and language but when the slightly more comic character of Balooi arrives (The bear being played by Bill Murray), he looses his nerve and brings in a more Americanised feel to the whole movie. The standout set piece songs from the cartoon (The Bare Necessities & I wanna be like you) are reprised albeit briefly, and Mowgli (a delightful Neel Sethi) noticeably starts using words like "Buddy" and phrases like "let's get on with it!"
Even one of the minor animal characters refer to being "exfoliated" after being licked by Baloo, a fact which I am sure would have had Kipling crying into his cup of chai

Shere Khan attacks an unsuspecting Mowgli

Having said this, the "darker" feel and look of this movie more than makes up for the sanitizing of the original language and a busload of heavyweight actors lend some dramatic weight to the narrative.
Ben Kingsley gives the panther Bagheera a suitable dignity, Lupita Nyong'o's Wolf mother is surprisingly moving in most of her scenes and Idris Elba is quite superb in his role of Shere Khan, his voice skills mating the stunning CGI version of the damaged Tiger.

Favreau has crafted a fine film here. Rich and satisfying and a total treat for the senses, I truly loved it.
However, if he had held his nerve and returned the entire script to Kipling's  historic Raj language this good movie would have been in my opinion, a great one.
8/10  

27 comments:

  1. sorry they didn't stick to the 'script.'

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  2. Hope you saw it in 3D, I rarely bother, but it was really worth it for this film.

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    1. no i chose 2d
      3D gets me dizzy

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  3. I haven't seen this one yet but I loved the 1994 live action movie
    that was very different.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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  4. Can't you get a job as Film Critic for the Trelawnyd news(!) - I learn so much about films from you and hardly ever go to the cinema.

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    1. you are reading the Trelawnyd news

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  5. Is lassie in it?

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  6. I'm a bit of a dinosaur , so I grew up loving Kiplings stories and poems . SAdly he's so politically incorrect that he's largely ignored these days except on my bookshelf

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  7. Kate i did note that in this version the female wolf eventually led the pack in the end

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    1. Brilliant reply, John!

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  8. We are planning on seeing this movie soon. The theater has amazing padded leather seats that you can lean back and have the foot rest go up. Maybe these luxury seats are old hat to you all, but it is new to me.

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  9. Well, you know, Disney always has to have its cutesy pound of flesh sooner or later.

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  10. I saw this movie and was completely enchanted and entranced! The Mama wolf made me want to cry with her feelings about the man cub and the bear made me giggle (Bill Murray was a stroke of genius!). I really liked this movie!

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  11. This looks like my kind of film. I loved the cartoon version as a child and I am sure I would love this grown up version too. 'Now I'm the king of the swingers, a jungle V.I.P...........'

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  12. We loved this film. Even the end credits were well worth staying in your seat for :-)

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  13. I remember watching the film 'Kim' and then reading the book which was so much more than my child brain could take in and it was the same with the 'Jungle' Disney but as least I had read that book first so wasn't expecting much. My expensive bound editions are still sitting on the bookshelf as the boys went from little golden books straight to 'Star Wars' and spend the rest of their youth building Death Stars in the garage.

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  14. Thinking my great granddaughter might like this one!

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  15. If it's Rudyard Kipling, I'm there.

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  16. I saw the boy who plays Mowgli being interviewed on TV recently; a rather strange little boy!

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  17. I've been in a dilemma whether to see this or no, and you don't make it any easier. Aware of the heaps of praise, almost universal, that it's getting I'm torn between giving in and my dislike of seeing films with animals featuring, especially in as big a way as this. Okay, I know full well that none of the animals in this are actually real but even so it always pushes uncomfortable buttons for me. However, I must confess that now with the addition of your own very positive verdict I find myself veering towards giving in and going.

    Btw: I must be the only person on earth who's never seen the '67 Disney cartoon, though of course I'm familiar with the wonderful Sherman Brothers' songs. I'm also familiar with the Kipling original, which may or may not be helpful.

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    1. I didn't see it either.

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    2. Gosh! We must be in a 'club' of two, Dave!

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  18. You probably know this already but the one Disney film I truly can't stand is his animated Jungle Book.

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    1. Its mot one of my favourites either

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  19. Saw this last night, enjoyed it. You have to remember it's rated PG so it's been ratcheted down to kiddie level intensity.

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  20. Alright John, I stand defeated, this was the ultimate review on this eminent picture!! Pitty you have to skip off and see it all by yourself. I agree it really follows the book much better. The voicetalents are really great, but yes, a bit laidback, casual american feeling to it. Nice that you added some pictures, while I just had that small comparison -clip. I do wonder however, have you or anyone around you seen the version with real actors??? From 1942!!! Quite different and charming, actually. Featuring Sabu if you remember him?

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