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4 stars – The Jungle Book’ movie review

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The Jungle Book

Story: An orphan boy is raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear, and a black panther.

Director: Jon Favreau

Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyongo, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito

Genre: Fantasy adventure

Favreau, and screenplay writer Justin Marks, who struggle a bit in the beginning with all the harmony, come alive from here on as the film ventures into the jungle. This is Madhya Pradesh’s tropical-forest Kanha Tiger Reserve recreated in Los Angeles, from the creak of a dead tree and the dried tip of a grass patch, to the landslide sending a forest slipping down into the raging Pench — using the tech knowhow also behind Avatar, Gravity and Life of Pi.

However, that’s just the start. Where the film scores consistently is in its CGI-crafted talking animals, who emote and enact without anything appearing out of the ordinary. Though nothing prepares you for the ferociousness and vehemence the mild-mannered Elba packs into Shere Khan.

There are many scenes which stand out, including Louie emerging out of the shadows after a bone-chilling lazy conversation, Shere Khan wriggling through the narrowest of tree branches (a fact about animals that one tends to overlook), and Mowgli racing through a dark forest holding aloft a torch.

When Mowgli, told to sing, first recites the Law of the Jungle – ‘For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack’ – Baloo exclaims, “That’s not a song, that’s propaganda!” That is delightful, but so is the later realisation of the old forest wisdom that lies at the heart of it.

And while Colonel Haathi of the 1967 film may have been as memorable a Disney character as they come, this Jungle Book knows it better. When it comes to the jungle, the silent giant is one animal not to be trifled with.

The film is supported by a stellar cast including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken. And its Hindi dubbed version for the Indian audience is voiced by a string of popular Bollywood stars, including names like Priyanka Chopra and Irrfan Khan.

You should watch Jon Favreau film The Jungle Book with your kids this weekend for sure.

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