So the Jungle Book has gotten ALOT of praise so far. 94% on Rotten Tomatoes!!! But the real question is this: is it really that good? Well it has it's good parts, things that should've been paid more attention to from the original movie. Others...felt out of place. I'll tell you what I mean.
The good stuff: 1. Mowgli. THANK YOU!!!! As someone who watched the Disney movie, I liked Mowgli but after watching it again before seeing this live action one, I realized how much of an annoying, whiney brat he is. He continues to complain throughout the ENTIRE journey. In this movie, Mowgli is less annoying. He does complain here or there, but it's not that bad. He understands why he has to leave the jungle (for his protection as well as the protection of his pack), he doesn't like it, but he understands. I also really like the actor who played Mowgli. There were a couple times where I thought they should've done another take, but aside from that, he's a good Mowgli. He's resourceful, brave, and smart. As discussed on @shannonl5 's card (https://www.vingle.net/posts/1504703?isrc=v), Hollywood has an infamous tendency to whitewash characters that should've been played by their respective race, so I'm very happy that they didn't do that to the main character.
2. The rest of the Cast. My god I loved this cast. First and foremost, all hail Idris Elba as Shere Khan! I legit forgot that it was him. I had to remind myself at the end of the movie. It's one of those "I don't here/see the actor, I hear/see the character" moments. Ben Kingsley did an awesome job as Bagheera. He has that smooth, sensible voice that matches Bagheera's personality. Baloo may be out of character from the original, but I kind of like him being the snarky con-artist. He's still lazy and sarcastic with a dash con-bear. Bill Murray was a great choice for this role (after all, he had to do something to make us all forget about Garfield).
3. CGI. Now you can definitely tell that the majority, if not all, of the animals seen in this movie are CGI... but it's not crappy CGI. It's a little more realistic-looking than what we've seen and are used to. The really funny thing was that I went with my friend who's 1 year away from graduating at Vet School and the 1 thing that bothered her was that "that porcupine doesn't belong in the Indian Jungle." So yeah, the CGI, while it is pretty obvious, is decent and very well done. Seriously, would you rather have actual animals with awkward mouth flaps? I don't. Also the backgrounds (also mostly CGI) are still very beautiful to look at. It didn't look CGI-ish to me because of how awesome and realistic they looked. It's a visually beautiful film.
4. Wolf Mom. If there was one thing that REALLY bothered me in the original movie (besides Mowgli's whineyness) it was that his family relationship with the wolves wasn't established very well. When the wolves have that meeting and tell Mowgli's adopted father that Mowgli has to go, the wolf is sad but eventually lets him go WITHOUT saying a word to Mowgli. In this movie, we see the adopted wolf mom swapped into this role and talking to Mowgli as if he were her own blood. "You can't take him away from me!" "You ARE my son." She cares about him, she's sad that he has to go. If there's one little nitpick, it would be that I wish they would've had a scene where she's raising Mowgli as a baby. Other than that, I'm glad we got the mother character that was glanced over in the original finally get some recognition. She is voiced by the lovely Lupita Nyong'o.
And now for the not-so-good: 1. Kaa. I kept an open mind about Scarlett Johansson in this role because there have been other instances such as Tarzan and Lion Ling on Broadway where 2 of the characters' genders were swapped (Tarzan: Terk went from female to male. LK: Rafiki went from male to female). It's strange and mostly unnecessary, but as long as they are played out well, I don't completely mind it. In this case, I wouldn't have totally minded Scarlet Johansson as Kaa...if it weren't for the strange reason why they put Kaa in there. In the original, Kaa was hypnotizing Mowgli so he can eat him. In this movie, Kaa hypnotizes Mowgli by telling him about his father who died by Shere Khan before trying to eat him. It's a weird plot placement. Again, I don't totally mind it being Scarlet Johansson, but I was more distracted by her character's use.
2. Strange Plot Devices. Speaking of Kaa's odd memory hypnosis...thing, why the hell did they put Mowgli's past in the middle of the movie? They should've just put in the beginning as well as made him an infant rather than a toddler. The whole point of Bagheera finding him as a baby and the wolf pack taking him in was because of their curiosity in baby Mowgli as well as finding him innocent and helpless. In this movie, Mowgli was a toddler, while he may have been innocent, he was able to walk and sort of speak. This loses that sense of curiousity and helplessness. Don't get me wrong, a toddler is still a helpless child, but if you were an animal who saw a tiny, walking "mancub" you would've thought "oh he's fine, I'll leave him be."
3. This is a Musical? Yes, I know the original Disney movie was a musical... but they only had like 2 songs in this movie....that makes no sense. If you wanna make it a musical, add more songs. If you don't wanna make it a musical, don't add songs. You didn't hear any songs from the live action Maleficent or Cinderella (Cinderella's lullaby doesn't count). I understand that they wanna put something of the memorable songs in the movie, but make them instrumental, which they did at first....but then "Bear Necessities" and "I wanna be like you" (very short) just felt...odd mostly because this is in the 3rd act and the first 2 acts had no singing, so it feels out of place.
4. Christopher Walken as Louie. This isn't bad, but more of a "meh". There are moments where his voice fits right, but others not so much. King Louie seems more....mafia boss from Jersey than the fun, crazy leader we've come to know. I kinda liked it, but I was also put off by it. I just wished that they could've mixed in King Louie's fun persona from the original film.
So what's my consensus? It's alright. Is it horrible? Absolutely not, there's a lot of good things in this movie. Is it worth all the praise it's getting? Not really, it's not as good as Zootopia (which got very high ratings for a reason). It's just a good movie...and that's it. It's not fantastic, but it's not garbage either. It's just good. It's a movie I'm happy to have seen once and that's it. It didn't really leave any impact. I do suggest you watch it, but don't give it high expectations. Again, it's good, but not amazing. Also what do you want me to review next week? Something old? Something new? Something good? Something bad? Let me know in the comments. If I dont get any requests by Thursday, Ill just put something out. K? Fair? Goodie. P.S. I know that some of you have requested movies, but I couldn't pass up Jungle Book, especially since it just came out. Anyone who puts in a request, I add it to my list. It may not always be right away, but I promise I will get to you 👍🏻.
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