The Jungle Book: A Tale of Loyalty and Family

The Jungle Book is in theaters everywhere, and you must run not walk to see this epic tale retold.

I had the pleasure of seeing an early preview of the new film The Jungle Book in theaters on Monday. Knowing the classic Disney animated tale, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the new live action movie. Don’t go into this film with any expectations of this being The Jungle Book you knew as a child, it is better. Not to say the classic film isn’t wonderful, but the new movie under the direction of Jon Favreau is stunning.

Mowgli and Bagheera set off for the man village photo credit: Disney Studios
Mowgli and Bagheera set off for the man village photo credit: Disney Studios

What began as a book series by Rudyard Kipling has become a beloved onscreen tale of a boy and his family. Mowgli the man cub, played by Neel Sethi only knows a life in the jungle with his wolf pack family. He truly feels he is part of the pack led by Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) and mothered by Raksha (voiced by Lupita Nyong’o). His family is fiercely protective of the man cub and Lupita Nyong’o portrayed a mother that loves unconditionally no matter how different her child is.  Unfortunately Shere Khan (voice by Idris Elba) who is scarred by man doesn’t feel the same kindred love for Mowgli. The vile and lonely tiger is out to get Mowgli and his family must get him to the man village so he is safe.  The journey Mowgli takes to get to the man village is anything but ordinary.

Bagheera (voiced by Sir Ben Kingsley) takes on the role of getting Mowgli safely to the man village. I saw Bagheera as very much a leader in the story, he doesn’t like to stray from the task at hand and is fiercely loyal to those who are part of his family. Mowgli shows Bagheera that there are other ways to do things that may not be his way, but it is a good way. There are two instances where Bagheera has his eyes opened by Mowgli and his “tricks”, he see’s that Mowgli can be a part of the jungle after-all even if he is a man cub. I don’t remember being teary eyed during the animated movie, this one will tug at your heart-strings a few times.

I love that in this adaption of the film we learned how Mowgli came to be in the jungle. After being separated from Bagheera on the journey, a chance encounter with a slithery snake Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) shows him where he came from. More importantly Mowgli learns why Shere Khan hates him so much. His encounter with Kaa almost leads Mowgli to an unlikely demise until a silly old bear Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray) comes along. I think Bill Murray was brilliant as Baloo; he was loveable and free-spirited. and once again another member of the jungle that was loyal to the man cub.

Baloo and Mowgli photo credit: Disney Studios
Baloo and Mowgli photo credit: Disney Studios

As the story unfolds we learn that Mowgli has no fear. Even when he comes up against a giant and hostile orangutan King Louie (voiced by Christopher Walken). This King Louie isn’t the silly clown in the animated tale. Christopher Walken portrays him in a mob boss kind of way, get me what I want or else. There is no other way to it. After he tells Mowgli some bad news all bets are off for Mowgli going to the man village. He has his sights set on taking down Shere Khan and will stop at nothing to do so. He is loyal to his wolf pack and will endanger himself for the sake of keeping them out of Shere Khan’s clutches.

the jungle book
Mowgili, Bagheera, Baloo and Raksha defend the jungle photo credit: Disney Studios

While you may know the story of The Jungle Book you will see it in an all new way when you watch this film. It is actually hard to tell that the animals are CGI, they are lifelike next to Mowgli throughout the film. This film is visually stunning, Jon Favreau has hit it out of the park. I am talking award-winning film making. There hasn’t been a film yet that captures a vivid and bold tale as this one does on-screen. From the moment the film starts to the end credits it is non-stop action. As in get your popcorn and soda and don’t move from your seat. I didn’t want it to end!

This tale will tug at your heart-strings as you watch the story of an unlikely family in the jungle persevere against evil.

Go see The Jungle Book in theaters everywhere. I promise you won’t be disappointed in this retold tale of love, family and loyalty from the most unlikely places.

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