In fact, this Jungle Book is much more frequently a stand-alone movie with some added Disney polish. It's a far more traditional film in the sense that it is more faithful to Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book than Disney's recent, more expensive film. The first part of the book is a fairly traditional plot with a group of animals who are looking for the Lost Boys in order to have their families come back and find them. Like the book itself, the film is fairly sparse in its storytelling, focusing mostly on the animals' journey to Shere Khan's territory. This version of The Jungle Book has a stronger emphasis on the children than Disney's 1999 movie version did and in return, it just might be the most believable version of the story. Indeed, it's quite jarring to see how much attention has been paid to Mowgli in this version of the story. To see a child character play such an active role in a film is fairly rare. Look for Mowgli's defiance and rage at being abandoned by his family. It's a welcome departure from the cutesy world of cuddly animals and Disney.
It's unfortunate that this Jungle Book is so much more of an adult-oriented film than Disney's version. Granted, there are some surreal moments that try to be pulled off with a certain amount of charm. Among the scenes that work best are the scenes where the wolves from Shere Khan's pack, members of the same family as Shere Khan himself, come to visit Mowgli. They're more naturalistic than most of the other wolves in the film and are quite human in their demeanor. The scenes where Mowgli is trapped in the swamps by the crocodiles are also quite good. While the latter portions of the film start to lose its way a bit, there are certainly more humorous moments and some good-natured slapstick. The whole thing is quite enjoyable.
The rest of this review will be a short look at the film itself, and then I'll provide my thoughts on some of the more interesting aspects of the film. If you've never seen The Jungle Book before, what the hell are you doing reading this? I'm going to assume you're looking for some ideas to get your kids hooked on theater and reading, and this is a good place to start. For more information, try Amazon.com and The Muppets . I think you'll find them both interesting and useful.
The 1994 Jungle Book had some more recognizable stars like Neill, Elwes and Lee, even if their roles were hardly what one would describe as integral to the story. That's not the case here. All five Mowgli-Raju Patel characters are front and center, and while the ensemble cast is relatively small by modern standards, there are some great, memorable faces like Ben Kingsley and David Thewlis. Casting real animals as the leads is a particularly brilliant decision, and these are beautifully designed and voiced creatures, with Thewlis in particular given a wonderful performance as the wily wolf Akela. Producers may have looked to the animated movie for inspiration, but The Jungle Book more than lived up to its name, even if it's more than a bit disconcerting to see a black man playing a half-naked boy. 827ec27edc