‘The Jungle Book’ review
By Jamal Al-Bayaa, Staff Writer
From start to finish, The Jungle Book is an engaging and entertaining story that is relevant and immediately likeable. Surprisingly, it made me think, which is uncommon for a lot of movies that come out today. If Inside Out is anything to go by, it seems that children’s movies have been doing a better job of making adults think than adult movies do. Since generic scenes of sex and violence aren’t an option for these kids movies, their writers are actually engaging the audience in a thoughtful discussion, generally on topics like growing up, which is the case for both Inside Out and The Jungle Book.
The Jungle Book displays a level of timelessness that is reminiscent of the pre-2000 Disney movies, where both children and adults can enjoy the movies equally. For kids, The Jungle Book is a fun, sometimes scary movie about a boy who lives in the jungle, eats with wolves, and runs with jaguars. The kids will be engaged by the animal antics, and wonder what it would be like to be a “man-cub.”
While all of this is true for the adults as well, they get the added bonus of a movie that deeply reflects their cultural values and the troubles they may have experienced growing up. They can wonder why the jungle animals have such a deep reverence for the Elephants, and interpret what the writers are trying to say through these ideas. In that classic pre-2000 Disney movie style, subtle symbolism fills this 2016 rendition with maturity and intelligence on all levels, without ever breaking away from the exciting plot and fast pace that director Jon Favreau pushed for.
By far, Mowgli steals the show. Played by Neel Sethi, The Jungle Book is his film debut. He was recruited to play the part by his dance instructor, who said that he would be great at the role. All his considerable experience and skill in acting was acquired on the job, literally in between filming sessions.
In the film, Mowgli is faced with a terrible challenge: being different. While his animal friends have four legs to walk on and no opposable thumbs to tie rope with, Mowgli walks in a way that attracts attention, makes him slower than the others, and makes him better suited to climbing trees than sprints of any kind.
However, this experience of being different for the special talents that you have is central to the movie, and central to the human experience in general, which is what makes much of the plot so powerful and relevant. Mowgli experiences the persistent problem of embracing who he is. Who is he? Should he be his strengths, and by extension himself, or should he hide his strengths and try and fit in with those he’s close to?
The movie does a spectacular job of providing an answer and encouraging viewers to deeply ponder the question. However, if you don’t want to spend too much time thinking, the movie is perfectly suited for those who enjoy a fast paced adventure movie with incredible animation, recognizable voices such as Idris Elba and Christopher Walken, and excellent character development… but most of all, incredible animation.