Disney's The Jungle Book (2016)

(Walt Disney)

 

When the lives of his wolf pack are threatened, a man-cub decides to leave the jungle only to run into adventures he could never have imagined.

 

Rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril.

Genre: Family Adventure

Viewer Appeal: All Ages

 

Most of us have seen the 1967 animated version of The Jungle Book, and can probably even sing some of the lyrics from "I Wanna' Be Like You" or "Bare Necessities." Taking on a re-make of such a classic and beloved movie can either be amazing or horrible. Thankfully, this version of The Jungle Book is amazing.

 

If, for some reason, you have never seen Jungle Book, it's the story of Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a "man-cub," or boy, who was found in the Jungle by Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), a panther. Recognizing he was not able to care for Mowgli, Bagheera takes him to a wolf pack, who raises him as one of their own. He stays with the wolves, learning the laws of the jungle, until Shere Khan (Idris Elba), the dreaded tiger, discovers the boy. Having a deep-seated hate for man, Shere Khan threatens to kill the wolf pack unless they give the boy over to him. Not wanting to cause division and strife for his family, Mowgli volunteers to leave the jungle, returning to the man village.

 

On his way to the village, Mowgli runs into Kaa the Boa Constrictor (Scarlett Johansson), is saved and befriended by Baloo the Bear (Bill Murray), and threatened by King Louie the Orangutan (Christopher Walken). More accurately, King Louie the Gigantopithecus, an ancestor to the Orangutan (since Orangutan's aren't found in India). Mowgli's adventures and friendships all work together to help him discover who he really is, and how to act like a human while living in the jungle.

 

The Jungle Book has wonderful themes of friendship and teamwork, while at the same time celebrating the differences and abilities of the individual. Mowgli wants to be a wolf, and is distraught that he can't run and survive the way they do. His wolf mother, Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o), reprimands him for using his "tricks" to get along in the jungle, when these are human means of surviving. But along the way, Mowgli comes to see that his ways are just as valuable to his survival, as well as the survival of those he loves.

 

In recent years, movie animation has gone to a whole new level, meaning it can be difficult to determine sometimes if something is real or created on a computer. Called photorealism, Director Jon Favreau used the same types of virtual production techniques that were used in Avatar and Gravity to make an animated movie look realistic. (Parents should be aware that there are some scenes that a young child could find frightening, due to the realism of the movie) So, while the animals in the movie appear real, they are not. Nothing, except what Neel Sethi needed to stand on, was real. Everything from the animals to the jungle itself are computer generated. It's pretty amazing, really.

Blu-Ray Disc Bonus Features

The Jungle Book” Reimagined – Director Jon Favreau sits down with producer Brigham Taylor and visual effects supervisor Robert Legato to discuss “The Jungle Book” and reflect on the years they devoted to the reimagining of this timeless tale. Discover how Rudyard Kipling’s original stories and the classic animated film influenced their unique approach, witness the technical wizardry that enabled the team to create a believable and thrilling movie-going experience, and learn how they borrowed a page from Walt Disney’s innovation playbook to make it all happen. Lastly, meet the all-star voice cast who help bring the film’s colorful characters to life, as well as the musicians who accent the adventure with a majestic music score.

 

I Am Mowgli – Follow the extraordinary journey of 12-year-old Neel Sethi, who was selected from thousands of hopefuls worldwide to play Mowgli “alongside” some of today’s biggest movie stars. Get a glimpse of Neel’s life before Hollywood came calling, check out his audition that sealed the deal, and see how a close-working relationship with Favreau brought out his best. Plus, Neel shares how filming “The Jungle Book” was one wild ride, from working alongside imaginary animals to performing some super-fun stunts.

 

King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer – So, exactly how do you create a musical number featuring one man-cub, a massive, legendary ape and an army of wild and wily monkeys in the Seeonee jungle? Viewers are granted rare and unique access to the development of the “I Wan’na Be Like You” sequence in which King Louie attempts to coerce Mowgli into giving up Man’s deadly “red flower” (fire). A fast-moving musical progression reel showcases storyboards, animatics, Christopher Walken’s recording session and visual effects layers, which ultimately merge to form one of the film’s most memorable scenes.

 

Audio Commentary – Director Jon Favreau delivers his scene-by-scene perspective on the live-action adventure “The Jungle Book” with all the candor and humor you’d expect from this multi-talented actor-writer-director-producer. 

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Mowgli was good at inventing things to make life easier. What are you good at?

 

• Part of the "Law" that the wolves recite says, "For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack." How is this true in your family? How do they make you stronger? How do you make them stronger?

 

• Shere Khan expects that Mowgli will grow up and cause harm to the jungle animals, simply by being human. His fear causes him to threaten Mowgli's life, and actually take the life of some of the wolves. What can you do when you are afraid to keep from making bad decisions?

 

--JW

 

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