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Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Jungle Book ~ Should Younger Viewers Go?

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The Jungle Book ~ Should Younger Viewers Go?

I have always loved The Jungle Book story by Rudyard Kipling. The Disney animated version brings back nostalgic memories for me.  I remember as a youngster  I would sing along with my father the songs like, "The Bare Necessities" and "I Wanna Be Like You"-ooh ooh.  One of the most magical parts about all things Disney is that different generations enjoy everything from the parks to the movies together.

The live action and CG (computer-generated) reimagined Disney version of The Jungle Book in theaters now is no different in that aspect and it is a visual, technological masterpiece.  The entire film is like a thick, wildly colorful tapestry with each frame layered beautifully to support the next. We saw the film in 3D, which made it feel like we were deep in the jungle. I suggest viewing this film in 3D, perhaps more than other films where it doesn't truly enhance the material, in The Jungle Book, it does!

The characters are the ones we know and love. WOW! Mowgli played by Neel Sethi does amazing work, especially because he is collaborating with voice actors and actresses as the only main live action character.  He really is a fantastic actor and I can't wait to see more of him. His mother wolf, Raksha portrayed by the voice of Lupita Nyong'o is one of my absolute favorite actresses and I am so happy she took on this role in the film. Scarlett Johansson, as the voice of Kaa the serpent was creepiness overload as it should have been.

Mowgli's mentors are Bagheera, the serious black panther voiced by Ben Kinigsley and Baloo, the comedic bear voiced by Bill Murray. Both of them protect and join forces to help the man cub out in various situations. My children LOVED Baloo and Bill Murray rocked the character. My husband was partial to Bagheera's wisdom and strict ways.

My favorite characters in the film were the antagonists: Shere Kahn, the powerful and vicious tiger, voiced by Idris Elba and King Louie, the enormous and power-hungry ape, voiced by Christopher Walken. Shere Kahn allows for so many suspenseful, ready-to-pounce scenes just like a real feline and Christopher Walken's facial features imposed on the primate and bringing his voice to King Louie were absolutely delightful.

We will be returning to see the film with Grandma and both of my children, ages 6 and 9, will be going again. Is it appropriate for young children and is it family-friendly? As always, this depends on the stage and character of your children. The animals look very realistic and there are chase scenes with both of my beloved bad guys, one animal is killed and some are hurt. There is suspenseful music and that very creepy scene with Kaa.  My 9 year-old said that Kaa was the scariest scene in the film especially because you hear the snake in surround sound as Mowgli almost meets his demise but it is followed by the silly comedic relief brought to us by Baloo. My daughter, the 6 year-old did see Star Wars - The Force Awakens and the Kylo Ren and Han Solo final scene together was a bit much for her- but wasn't it for all of us?  Zootopia was not too surprising or scary for her. See my review of that film HERE. The suspenseful and surprising moments in The Jungle Book did make her jump in her seat a bit but she was not overwhelmed or overly afraid of any of it. In fact, on the drive home from the theatre she asked, "Can we see The Jungle Book again tomorrow?" - "Yes, well maybe in a few days but we will see it again for sure!"

Watch previews and clips with your kids to prepare them for some of the scenes and there are also educational activity guides for free download HERE.

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 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. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world. The wild adventure swings into theaters in 3D on April 15, 2016. 

Genre: Live-Action/Action-Adventure
Cast: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Neel Sethi and Christopher Walken,
Directors: Jon Favreau
Producer: Jon Favreau, Brigham Taylor
Screenplay by: Justin Marks

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