Friday, 26 August 2016

Popcorn & Coffee: The Jungle Book

PG; 106 minutes; $39.99; Amazon

Arriving on Blu-ray and DVD on Tuesday August 30th from Disney Home Entertainment is this year's mega-blockbuster The Jungle Book. The film is already available on Digital HD. Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1 & 2), the film stars Neel Sethi as Mowgli, along with the talented voice-cast of Billy Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, and Christopher Walken.

Based on the classic novel of the same name by Rudyard Kipling and the1967 Walt Disney classic animated film, The Jungle Book tells the tale of a young orphan boy, Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi) who is saved by a black panther named Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and is given to a clan of Indian wolves to be raised by.

Years later, a deadly Bengal tiger named Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba) threatens to kill the man-cub, which leads Bagheera to make the decision to take Mowgli to the man-village. However, on their journey there Shere Khan attacks them, and Mowgli and Bagheera become separated.

Despite being raised a by wolves, Mowgli's chances of surviving the dangers of the jungle (including an encounter with the python Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson)) are slim, well, until he is rescued by a sloth bear named Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray). It doesn't take long for Mowgli and Baloo to become best friends, though the bear is sorta using the man-cub to help him gather honeycombs.

Unfortunately, King Louie's, a giant orangutan (voiced by Christopher Walken), army of monkeys have plans for Mowgli, which leads Baloo to team up with Bagheera to rescue the man-cub.

Blu-ray & HD Digital Special Features includes:

  • “The Jungle Book” ReimaginedFavreau 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 MowgliFollow 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 LayerSo, 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 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.

Final Thoughts: Who hasn't seen the 1967's The Jungle Book? I remember seeing it when it was re-released to theaters in 1990 (I was around nine-years-old at the time). Having too many fond memories of the movie, my expectations for this year's live-version/CGI remake were probably a little too high. Disney had already tried to make a live-adaptation in 1994 that had little to do with the original story; later followed by a direct-to-video prequel in 1998.

The 2016 remake follows the original Rudyard Kipling's short stories more closely than any other adaptation, but at the same time it follows closely to the 1967 animated film. I'm not a big fan of CGI, but all the computer-generated animals blends in nicely with the real India jungle scenery. There are a lot of big names as part of the voice-cast and all them does a marvelous job bringing these beloved characters to life. Also, Neel Sethi gives a great performance as Mowgli.

Overall, I enjoyed watching The Jungle Book on Blu-ray. It's a great live-action adaptation of the classic story, and it's one of the better movies of 2016.

*I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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