I brought the biggest (Hubs) and smallest (Boo) boys to a screening of Disney's new "The Jungle Book" on Wednesday. We of course loved the original animated version and were interested to see how they brought the characters and story to life with CGI. Hubs had been hearing very positive hype, including that it was a good one to opt for 3D. He's was happy to hear that's how we were seeing it.
Leaving the theatre, a couple of the gals that work there asked if we liked it more or less than the original. I couldn't really answer that, and I told them the movies may be the same basic story, but they are so very different from each other I can't really compare them that way.
For those who don't know the story, here's the official low-down:
Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a August 20, 2015 man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray).
Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire. The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong'o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela.That's some major heavy-hitters in both the talent and direction. But the technical folks deserve even more credit. This movie is almost entirely computer generated.. The only live action character is Mowgli. All of the animals and environments were created by computer and creative geniuses. It's seamless, and gorgeous, and you will be drawn in. I guarantee you will forget Neel Sethi performed this all in front of green screens. The voice talents are incredible, and they sing their own songs!
On that note, I will say I was disappointed that the song "Trust In Me" did not make it into the film. But be sure to stay for the credits where you will hear it, beautifully and seductively sung by Scarlett Johansson herself. The credits themselves are entertaining, and make great use of the 3D. Don't walk out too soon!
The big question - that PG rating. Is this movie for little kids? My answer, not really. You know your own kids best, but this will likely frighten the preschool set. The story is darker than the animated musical. King Louie is huge (like HUGE) and terrifying. Idris Elba voices an amazingly scary Shere Khan. I found myself tensed and on edge for a good part of the film. In a good way, but not in a way that a sensitive 5 year old might enjoy. Here's a couple of clips to help you decide:
Bottom line, we all loved this film and highly recommend it. We will definitely be adding this to our collection when it comes out on BluRay. If you have particularly sensitive or timid kids they may find this scary. Ages 8 and up is my recommendation, but again - you know your kids best!
Disclosure: I received free passes for my family and I to see this screening for review purposes. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.