I’m right in the middle of my reviews for the films I saw at the Phoenix Film Festival, but I’m going to kind of switch things up to bring you a review for a movie you can check out right now with our friends and presenters of this review, FatCats Gilbert located on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline. FatCats Gilbert is the most comfortable place in the valley to check out the latest and greatest movies at the box office! They even bring delicious food right to your seat!
Ever since I first heard about the new incarnation of The Jungle Book I was very excited to see this movie. The original Jungle Book film from 1967 is one of my personal favorite Disney films, and I was so excited to see what Jon Favreau, the director of many movies I love such as the first Iron Man film, Elf, and Chef and many movies I like such as Iron Man 2, Cowboys & Aliens, and Zathura: A Space Adcenture, could do. I was also excited to see what a “live action” Jungle Book would look like. I put “live action” in quotations because as real as this entire movie may look, it was made completely, visually anyways, on a sound stage in the middle of Hollywood. It is 100% visual effects minus Neel Sethi, and if you have seen the trailer above, you understand why that is such an impressive feat. Also, I’m in Los Angeles right now. I am right in the heart of movie production, so I figured I would give The Jungle Book a watch at one of the most famous movie theaters in the world, the TCL Chinese Theater. It was incredible. I can honestly say that I have never had a movie theater experience like that in my life. Given, tickets were $22 per person, but you get what you pay for. The inside is beautiful, and everything including picture, sound, IMAX 3-D, environment, comfort, and seat arrangement was absolutely perfect. I would definitely go back to see a movie like Star Wars or just to really treat myself to a movie theater experience. I’ve rambled on enough. Let’s talk about The Jungle Book.
The Jungle Book is directed by Jon Favreau and stars Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, and Garry Shandling. Wow. That was a mouthful. Neel Sethi is Mowgli, a man-cub who has been taken in by the wolves of the jungle. After a tiger named Shere Khan threatens Mowgli, Mowgli must make his way back to the man-village where he belongs. He meets plenty of friends along the way including Bagheera, a black panther who is Mowgli’s friend and teacher, and Baloo, a big, lazy bear who finds that he and Mowgli compliment each other well. He also meets some enemies, and how he learns to work around these enemies will change his life forever.
First of all, this is Neel Sethi’s first feature length film. Looking through his filmography, he has acted in one short, but other than that, this new Jungle Book is his first job. He was amazing. He has so much emotion and depth, and he displays it so well. It’s also so impressive that he was running around a sound stage doing these things. He literally had nothing around him to help guide him as far as what was correct except director Jon Favreau, and that must seem like a a daunting task, but he pulls it off so amazingly well, and I was very impressed. Next, as I’ve said, this movie was created on a sound stage in Hollywood. It wasn’t shot in the jungle with little Neel Sethi running around the middle of the unknown. That’s what this movie looks like. There is not a single time I didn’t believe that I was looking right into the heart of the jungle. It appears so real. You would almost think that they brought out real animals for this movie just because so many animals look like something a safari journalist would take pictures of. It’s breath taking. The Jungle Book also does such an amazing job of capturing emotion and suspense. Things are constantly happening around Mowgli, and even if you have seen the original 1967 The Jungle Book, you are still concerned for Mowgli’s safety and Mowgli’s friends’ safety. Shere Khan is an absolute menace. He is pure evil and is such a scary villain for this movie. Though we know he is the antagonist, we do see where he is coming from in his vengeance, and though we may 100% disagree with his actions, we do see why he would be out to hunt Mowgli down. Finally I have to mention the voice actors. What perfect casting. Bill Murray as Baloo blew me away, and Ben Kingsley and the aforementioned Ben Kingsley as the voice of Shere Khan were both phenomenal. It felt like producers and Jon Favreau sat down in someone’s bedroom one day and tried to figure out who is literally the best possible option for these characters, then made it happen. Have you ever seen a movie and thought that the lead was good, but someone else would have been better? I have, but not about this movie because they brought in only the perfect voices for the characters.
I didn’t have many negatives for the movie. Really my only main problem happened in the span of about thirty seconds when an emotional event took place and we didn’t have time to let that marinate. I wish we would have been able to see the emotional toll that it took on some of the characters, but the movie cuts away to a different scene, and we don’t feel that emotional toll until later in the movie, and it is still not from some of the characters I would have liked to have seen it from. My only other problem was that Kaa felt like a plot device to draw Mowgli toward Baloo. They brought in one of the most famous voices in Hollywood in Scarlett Johansson and made her character a plot device which didn’t make much sense to me. I will say that some small children WILL be scared by this movie. I fell victim to a couple jump scares. I hate jump scares because most movies do cheap, predictable jump scares, but these were very good. However, they will scare children. I also feel as though Shere Khan would scare many small children. He is a menace, and he is not to be taken lightly. He is one of the scariest villains I have seen on-screen in a while, and while that is not a negative for me, it may be a negative for you if you planned to take your young child out to see the movie this weekend expecting the mildness of the original film. It’s pretty graphic and scary, and it may be one to wait on.
Overall, I loved The Jungle Book. I thought that it was one of the best movies I have seen this year, and I can’t wait to pick it up on Blu Ray when it hits stores. I thought that Neel Sethi was fantastic, and the visuals were absolutely stunning. It’s all complimented by the voice acting and an intense, emotional story that is so easy to watch and made the time fly by. I had my small issues with it, but I have to focus on the positives of this movie which outweigh the negatives like crazy. I’m going to give The Jungle Book a 9/10.
Have you gotten out to see The Jungle Book yet? If you have, what did you think? Comment down in the comment section to let me know! Will you be going out to check it out this weekend? If you are, come back and let me know what you thought as well! I do have just one more review from the Phoenix Film Festival to write this week, so I will be sure to get that out so that you can check it out and be exposed to a movie you may not have otherwise been exposed to! I have most of my reviews up right now, so you can check those out if you would like, or if you would like to wait for another movie review for a movie you can see as soon as you read the review, I will be back in the normal swing of things this coming Friday. You can also follow our brand new Twitter page @pulsemoviecrew to get updates on movie news and to check out the latest reviews just minutes after they have been posted. As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!