By Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)— When it was announced that Jon Favreau, the director that brought Iron Man to the big screen, would be tackling a live action version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, I imagine many were in the state I was in: excited and nervous at the same time.
To bring to life the classic tale, which became an animated hit in 1967, is no small feat. But upon viewing The Jungle Book in 3D, I can say with all certainty that this film is a winner, through and through. But what made this version work?
-The graphics: This film looks phenomenal, from the opening shot to the genius closing credits. To see the lush, yet dangerous, jungle in such spectacular form is breathtaking. Not to mention the outstanding rendition of the animals we have all come to love from the tale, all which pop right off of the screen.
-The 3D: 3D films have absolutely been hit or miss for me. Most of the time, it is the animated films that nail the 3D effect, adding depth to an otherwise flat screen. With The Jungle Book, I easily witnessed the best 3D effects I have seen in a live action film. You feel like you are being pulled into this magical place, and you experience the surreal danger young Mowgli (Neel Sethi) experiences, like the face to face encounter with the python Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), which utilizes the magic of 3D perfectly.
-The actors: The Jungle Book not only looks fantastic, it sounds amazing as well, and this is due in part to the outstanding cast that breathe life into the film. Of course, the only main human actor comes in the form of the man cub, Mowgli, played by Neel Sethi in his breakout role. But providing the voices for the animals in the jungle is a pantheon of talent: Ben Kingsley voices the almighty panther Bagheera, Bill Murray plays the loveable bear Baloo, Christopher Walken brings the toughness to massive king of the apes, King Louie, and Idris Elba terrifies as the blood thirsty tiger, Shere Kahn, and that’s just to name a few.
-The overall story: We all know the story of the man cub raised in the jungle, but with this film, we get more than that. The film is packed with meaning- from the isolation of being different, to the coming of age arc of finding one’s self, to the dangers humans pose to the delicate balance of the wildlife- the film touches on so many important topics, all while leaving the viewer entertained at the same time. The story is, of course, somewhat predictable to those familiar with the book or animated film that came before it. Still, there is enough to leave viewers guessing what’s next, and with a satisfying ending,
I don’t think this will be our last visit to the jungle. Favreau and company have created a modern Disney masterpiece with The Jungle Book, and do so in grand fashion. Don’t take my word for it, head over to your local cinema and witness it firsthand.
Nolan Smith is a longtime reporter with High Desert Daily, covering everything from the opening of a new comic book shop to a series on the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. A long time resident of the Victor Valley, Smith has worked in the educational sector in the High Desert for the past decade. He is also the Editor and Co-Founder of Pastrami Nation- a pop culture news site which features news, reviews and podcasts on various aspects of pop culture, including comic books, video games, films, anime, manga, cosplay and more. You can visit Pastrami Nation at www.pastramination.com.