Ages 11 and under
Male and Female
How did you feel when you saw Avatar for the first time? How did you feel when you were transported into Pandora with the magic of IMAX 3D? Maybe the predictable plot didn’t stick with you, but the visuals certainly did. Now, take a look at this live action re-imagining of the classic Rudyard Kipling short stories, as well as the animated Disney delight from the 1960’s. What you see here in 2016 is an immersive trip into The Jungle Book that no other adaptation has ever brought to life, additionally exploring the same themes of man’s relation with the wild that were set aside by the Disney cartoon.
This triumph in Disney entertainment owes its thanks solely to director Jon Favreau, who people know for his lighthearted fantasy family fun with favorites such as Iron Man. Now, he proves to be a true showman of the screen in the same manner as Christopher Nolan or James Cameron, building upon several of the same cinematic techniques used back in Avatar. He knew the jazzy, family-friendly tone of the original cartoon didn’t fit the photo-real image he had in mind, so went with the feel of danger and mythology shone in Kipling’s original conception—a decision made for the better.
The result is a dizzying, majestic IMAX experience complete with grand waterfalls, sunbeams, time-lapse photography, tense mudslides, and eerie fog. Here is the real star of the film: the creation of each individual animal. Their walking patterns are all accurate to their real-life counterparts, with tangible fur textures that add to the weight of each character. However, they don’t look quite as real when they’re talking or making unnatural movements, so it may not be the best showcase of special effects you’ve ever seen. Even so, the visions of the jungle’s citizens interacting around a waterhole creates a wonderful sight, and the creation of the major characters truly makes The Jungle Book come alive.
Bagheera is voiced by Ben Kingsley, and he sounds miraculously similar to his cartoon counterpart. Shere Khan is voiced menacingly by Idris Elba, and the casting choice could not have made the villain feel more alive. Baloo is voiced by Bill Murray, who unfortunately make things fall apart a bit. He is literally Bill Murray with fur, snapping the typical Bill Murray humor, and removing a bit of the magic. But that is thankfully made up for, as the originally playful orangutan King Louie has been transformed into a gigantopithecus. He sits on his throne like Jabba the Hutt, rests in the shadows like Don Corleone, and appears genuinely threatening thanks to the spectacular voice and facial work by Christopher Walken. The most resonating of all the on-screen moments is the 150-foot long snake, Kaa, whose body coils the forest of vines overrun with echoes. Favreau made such a perfect decision in casting the spooky emotive voice of Scarlett Johansson that punches you in the gut. Then there’s Neel Sethi, the newcomer who plays Mowgli. While he does look, act, and sound exactly like the cartoon, he says all his lines in one breath too often, and never acts genuine.
The focus is not on the little boy raised by wolves. The focus is on the spectacle of the talking creatures. Although it may just as well hurt the product. Screenwriter Justin Marks has made some changes from the animated feature to expand upon the themes: Mowgli is already a grown boy by the beginning, not a baby found in the river by Bagheera; He is challenged in how he must learn to be a wolf, not a man cub; His resourceful inventions to help him come across obstacles such as drinking water are ridiculed by the wolf pack for not being “the wolf way;” He overall wonders, “how many lives is a man cub worth?”
But for every unnecessary change made, there is another change that makes The Jungle Book 2016 overall stronger than its animated counterpart. There is significantly more focus put into the weapon of man (the red flower, or fire). Each of the characters are more involved in the journey of Mowgli, with the exception of Kaa and King Louie. But that’s a good thing, because these characters each had the two best scenes.
I will admit, The Jungle Book is an enlightening contribution to movies deserving to be experienced on the largest screen possible. Here is what Rudyard Kipling’s original novel was about: defining our relationship with the wild which we’re guilty of endangering. Therefore, I encourage this viewing experience to all.
What makes this adaptation of The Jungle Book stand out from the countless others is its focus on Mowgli’s adaptation to his environmental surroundings. He uses a hollow shell to scoop out drinking water and invents a complex contraption to help Baloo get a honeycomb down from the top of a cliff. They all are genius methods for a human like Mowgli to survive in the jungle, but the wolves he lives with, along with his mentor/supervisor Bagheera condemn him for not doing the “wolf way.” Their answer is to send him back to the man village so that he may do “man” things in freedom. What do you think this says about the way we people interact with others who do things differently?
When I would take tests in high school and college, I was offered the accommodation to take the test in a separate room free of distractions, along with extra time to complete the test. If anyone knew about what I was doing, they would have been quick to think that I was getting a special treatment, or that it was a sign of my lack of knowledge in the subject. I’m not saying anyone’s ever said that to me, but it has been common assumptions to this sort of system.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #1: Other Children Don’t Act Like Yours.
Everybody’s different. This we all understand fairly well. But what we don’t understand all the time is when somebody appears “more different” based on immediate appearance. If they are doing something out of the ordinary from everybody else, it instinctly looks a little funny.
A kid with one leg wants to play soccer but needs crutches to do it, everyone thinks he can’t do it, no matter how capable he ends up being at the sport.
A man with no arms wants to play the guitar with his feet, and people giggle a bit, even if just in their head, when they hear this scenario.
A man permanently paralyzed from the neck down wants to be a painter, and anyone who hasn’t even met the guy would assume that dream is dead.
Yet what no one ever considers is that with every roadblock that seemingly stands in the way of someone doing much of anything, there is a tangible loophole.
That kid in the wheelchair who played soccer? Here is his story.
The armless man who wanted to play guitar? Watch and be amazed.
The paralyzed man who wants to be a painter? Guess what? His dream became reality.
Now, getting around obstacles to achieve dreams is not always achievable in every circumstance. A mute person can realistically never hope to be a singer, nor can a deaf person be a music critic (yet I could be wrong, and there are stories of these kind out there that I haven’t yet heard of). But for countless other situations, even somebody with autism can go on to have a successful career, get married, and leave an important legacy, all while doing what is unique to him or her.
There is no traditional way of doing things. Just as Mowgli has his own unique way of getting honey and water, everybody has a unique skillset that enables us all to thrive in where we are placed. I thrived through my academics by taking tests in another room, and I thrived through judging a film through a unique set of criteria I set up all on my own.
It’s important not to focus on the masses or on what is “common,” it’s all about the individual when we consider the most obtainable path to success.
- For those with autism or any form of disability: what’s holding you back? What else do you have that can help you with what’s holding you back? Resourcefulness and creative thinking are the key ingredients to a happy life.
- For any teachers out there: remember that your autistic students are not like everybody else, nor will they ever be like anybody else. So stop trying to fit them into the mold that society expects of them. Keep the focus on developing each individual student based on what makes each of them unique.
- For the parents of autistic children: don’t just do what other parents have done. You are not those other parents. Allow your child to do what works best for him/her in doing what you think is impossible. Also, make sure that you have regular meetings with experts in the field for ideas on what you can do to help your child explore opportunities.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Chamontin, Benoît. Le Livre de la Jungle : une nouvelle bande-annonce et des images dévoilées au Superbowl 50. Digital image. Geeks and Com‘. 2016. Web. <http://www.geeksandcom.com/2016/02/07/le-livre-de-la-jungle-bande-annonce-images-superbowl-50/>.
Errico, Marcus. Jon Favreau Breaks Down Disney's Live-Action 'Jungle Book' Teaser: From the Digital Toolbox to the 'Bare Necessities'. Yahoo! Movies. Web. <https://www.yahoo.com/movies/jon-favreau-breaks-down-disneys-live-action-129130133927.html>.
The Jungle Book. Disney. Web. <http://movies.disney.com/the-jungle-book-2016>.
Paralyzed man paints with his mouth. Video. CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Web. <http://www.cnn.com/videos/sports/2015/08/13/henry-fraser-mouth-artist-jsten-orig.cnn>.
Success Lab, Nico's Story - Poweraide Commercial. What a F*&KING Champ! Video. YouTube, 17 Apr 2014. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkzRYVLlcoQ>.
Tugat Yourheartstrings, Armless man playing guitar! - 3 Doors Down - Kryptonite. Video. YouTube, 19 Feb 2014. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heP79fmrOYk>.