The Jungle Book is based on Rudyard Kipling’s book. Mowgli is a man-cub living in the jungle with wolves. Shere Khan, a nasty-dispositioned tiger, says the boy doesn’t belong and ought to be killed. The wolves and the panther Bagheera decide he would be better off — and safer — living with humans.
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My knock? Director Jon Favreau bases this version on Disney’s 1967 animated classic. Doing it more like Kipling’s ecological-minded book would have been a better, and much deeper movie. When you consider the political emphasis these days on ecology, I’m surprised Favreau and Disney didn’t head in that direction.
Knock two. It’s a story that demands fun. Alas, Favreau’s film is not. Lost is the delightful and energetic dialogue given to us by Phil Harris, Louis Prima, George Sanders and Sterling Holloway in the original. Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and the rest of the cast — especially Idris Elba’s Shere Khan — seem bored with the material.
Worse, Favreau includes a bit of music and two tuneless renditions of songs from the 1967 film by Bill Murray and Christopher Walken.
There is one plus. Favreau is a special effects master. He’s best known for the two Iron Mans, but he also directed Elf and the two fantasy flicks, Cowboys and Aliens and Zathura. In The Jungle Book, he expertly blends real-life scenery with real-life and animated animals. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where animation and reality separate.
That’s impressive. Not much else is.
It’s not a bad movie, but just casing it in brilliant special effects doesn’t make it a good one. To put it more succinctly, this version of The Jungle Book is the bare necessities. Those who saw the original and remember the song will get the joke.
You Vs. Mr. Movie class planned April 23
Learn how to review movies at a You Vs. Mr. Movie class with the Herald’s movie reviewer, Gary Wolcott.
You will start by watching The Jungle Book April 23 at Carmike Cinemas, 1380 N. Louisiana St., Kennewick.
Afterward, the class will convene at Southridge High School, 3320 Southrdige Blvd., also in Kennewick. There, Mr. Movie will go through the ins and outs of how to review a movie.
It costs $23 and includes the ticket.
Register at bit.ly/MrMovieClass. When you register, Kennewick Community Education will contact you with the movie times and when to be at the school.
The Jungle Book
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Gary Shandling, Neel Sethi
Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars
Rated PG for mature themes. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and Queensgate 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.