During a recent trip to Hollywood to meet with radio execs, I had some downtime with family and went to see “The Jungle Book”. I did not have great expectations of this movie because the trailer had made it seem aggressive and a bit like Jurassic Park. I was initially only attracted to it due to the effects. But I was pleasantly surprised by its spirit and how true it was compared to the original 1967 Disney movie. The pacing had changed to reflect our sped-up times, but the story was on point, the timeless songs and humour remained the same.
The young Neel Sethi as Mowgli is a beautiful discovery as a child actor. His interaction with the CGI characters felt real. His big open heart, round beautiful eyes and love for all the animals make him one of the most likable lead characters I have seen in a long time.
It is hard to pick one favourite thing in the movie. The pacing was excellent and carried the story well. The introduction of each new character for each scene flowed really well. From a relationship perspective, I loved the relationship with Balu and Mowgli. The innocence of the man cub being manipulated by the cheeky old bear got them into some funny situations that made both the adults and children in the audience laugh. I found the relationship with the Mowgli and the elephants very heartwarming. Mostly I loved watching how Mowgli stumbled through the film to find his place as a man held within the beauty of nature.
The original movie ended with a fearful Mowgli becoming deeply infatuated with a girl from a village, lulling him back to his people. The movie ended with man and animal being separate. This time, the movie ended with Mowgli being a part of the jungle, at home in nature among the animal kingdom. While I am certain this was done to leave open the possibility of a sequel (as has since been announced), it also communicated that man is within nature and one with nature. I appreciated this.
One thing I would have liked to see handled differently was the character of Shere Khan, the tiger. I found that Shere Khan had been ascribed very human villain tendencies of revenge, spite, hatred and cruelty. I understand that the villain needed to be relatable to the audience, but I wonder if the producer Jon Favreau could have accomplished this just by showing the tiger as a predator, rather than with a human-seeming thirst for vindication and revenge.
Overall, though, it is a lovely story, with great characters, and extremely well made. I would recommend it for anyone with an imagination and a sense of humour.
Rishi Deva is the CEO of Kupid’s Play Records. With two decades of experience in the music industry, Rishi has been nominated for numerous marketing awards and earned a Gold Record in the music industry for management.