Nostalgia and character drive ‘The Jungle Book’

Andrew Shermoen

Disney’s animated version of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” was one of my favorite movies as a kid. This level of nostalgia drives the enjoyment to be had for older viewers when watching Disney’s live-action remake of “The Jungle Book” directed by Jon Favreau.

Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a young boy who was left in the Indian jungle to be raised by wolves. He is guarded by the pack and by his friend and rescuer Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), a black panther. When a drought enacts the water truce, the animals convene at a communal watering hole and refuse to hunt until the rains come. When Mowgli arrives at the water hole the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who despises humans, threatens to kill Mowgli when the rains come. Bagheera attempts to help Mowgli escape but when they are separated Mowgli joins forces with Baloo (Bill Murray), a relaxed, con-artist sloth bear.

The casting of the characters is spot-on. Murray’s relaxed portrayal of Baloo is perfect for the character, he seems as though he was born for the role and I couldn’t imagine a better pick. The same goes for Elba, whose iconic English accent baritone sounds like a low growl of a tiger. His portrayal is even more frightening and domineering than Sanders’s performance in the animated film. Walken’s iconic speech pattern is perfect for King Louie, who is clever and funny while still retaining his malicious power-hungry side.

The only questionable portrayals are from Sethi’s Mowgli. His status as a new actor is noticeable and Scarlett Johanson’s brief and unnecessary appearence as the gigantic python Kaa.

. The film relies heavily on CGI for its animal characters but the effects are really well-balanced. The animals both look real and never make the scene feel overburdened with computer generated effects. It is a balancing act that Favreau and his visual effects artists have been able to walk perfectly before. This movie is a great example of using a lot of CGI but still using it as a tool. It adds to the movie’s quality instead of dragging the movie down by relying too much on it.

“The Jungle Book” has a perfect mix of nostalgia for adults and enhanced storytelling that never treats its adult or child audience as though they are dumb. It has a few low points, but its treatment of character, great performances and well-executed computer graphics make “The Jungle Book” an incredibly enjoyable film for all audiences.

Rating: 4/5 stars