Title: The Jungle Book
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family
Director: Jon Favreau
Screenwriter: Justin Marks
based on the book of Rudyard Kipling
Music: John Debney
Cinematography: Bill Pope
Saw a 2D edition in Madrid of this amazingly-calibrated Disney live-action upgrade of its animation repertoire, directed by Jon Favreau, a firm hand behind Marvel’s IRON MAN (2008) and its lesser sequel. Shot exclusively in a studio setting with its astonishingly lifelike motion capture VFX to imitate the anthropomorphic faunas and its richly generated jungle trappings, THE JUNGLE BOOK lands up at a new crowning point of virtual reality in digital era, on a plus side, definitely, there will be no necessity of exploiting living animals to pamper our visual pleasure, regardless of how cinema purists will demur.
In an unnamed Indian tropical forest, a man-cub Mowgli (newcomer Sethi, takes up the gauntlet to perform against the green screen with spirited if slightly contrived zing), is raised by the wolf pack, led by Akela (Esposito) and his wife Raksha (Nyong’o). When the bestial tiger Shere Khan (Elba) notices his presence, he swears to hunt him down not just because the presence of a man breaches the law of the jungle, but also for some personal reasons. So Mowgli is escorted by his protector and mentor, the ethically correct panther Bagheera (Kingsley), heads to a man village, en route, he separates from Bagheera due to Shere Khan’s ambush, then being enchanted by the beguiling boa constrictor Kaa (Johansson, who is falsely advertised for her rather brief presence), and saved by the amiable and honey-seeking bear Baloo (Murray), a (initially unbalanced) friendship has formed in the film’s most boisterous chapter. But an impending danger lurks, after a temple-razing kerfuffle with the Gigantopithecus King Louie (Walken, the MVP among a superlative voice-and-motion-capture cast, whose anachronistic singsong of I WANNA BE LIKE YOU from the original animation is so out-of-the-place but vastly amusing) and his primate minions, Mowgli has to face his ultimate nemesis and settles the old score once for all, in a man’s way.
Man’s “Red Flower”, as a symbol of something both dangerous and unknown, marks the difference between man and other living things, it scars Shere Khan, haunts King Louie, blazes the forest, all because of man’s far more advanced intelligence, a gift can bring downfall to those inferior species, that’s what we can ruminate from Kipling’s story, be humble and sensible, lest one day we will be pigeonholed as the inferior one, when Armageddon arrives, there will be no revered elephants to extinguish the conflagration. All in all, Favreau’s well-crafted project is a thoroughly commendable family crowd-pleaser, and its rosy box-office triumph boosts a heartening hail to the upcoming Disney live-action adaptations.