Director Jon Favreau swings us back into the magical world of ‘The Jungle Book.’
Nothing is better than the senses that come out of an older book. The smell of the binding, the feel of the battered pages: it’s enough to make you relive the experience over and over again. And I can honestly say that the idea of revisiting such genuine sentiment never sounded better than with this month’s recent pull from the book shelf: The Jungle Book.
In the tidal wave of revamps and revivals that have bombarded local cinema for the past several years, The Jungle Book never felt like a nuanced return. Being that this heartfelt classic was a personal favorite of mine from such an early age, my perspective might be a bit twisted in the case of bias. However, strictly speaking as a critic, there was some special in hearing of Mowgli and Baloo’s triumphiant restoration to the big screen, something different. Yet, there is nothing far from familiar about this courageous tale. Interestingly, it’s quite the same as its predecessor. And that’s exactly why you should see it.
Famed director Jon Favreau must be an avid follower of the original Disney outing, because his interpretation pays more than its fair share of homage. We still see a man-cub, still being raised by his respected wolf-pack, still being guided by a logical panther, still battling the forces of nature (from a hypnotizing snake to a belligerent tiger) and still being head over heels over a bear. Take away the green screen, and you’re still left with a heart the size of a lion.
If this coming-of-age tale between man and beast couldn’t pull you in enough, just glance at Favreau’s cast of misfits. Ben Kingsley plays Bagheera the wise panther, Idris Elba interprets the villainous tiger Shere Khan, Scarlet Johansson lends herself to Kaa the captivating snake and Christopher Walken is practically type-casted as the notorious monkey-lord King Louie. And let’s not forget the lovably mischievous bear, Baloo, who is perfectly personified by the likes of everyone’s favorite buffoon: Bill Murray.
Are you tangled in yet? If not, take it from someone who is: Collin Borow, a Montclair State University sophomore in the School of Communication and Media. “I never actually saw the original Jungle Book as a child,” said Collin. “However, I was quite interested when I saw that they would be releasing a live action version of the classic hit. After experiencing how intense the trailer was, I was only more excited to see it.”
Take it from Borow; Disney might have polished the dust off of this classic’s cover, but it continues to thrive as its own separate entity. What excites me the most is that some child out there will see this rendition and make it their own, inspiring them to love the art of a good story in the same fashion that the 1967 archetype did for me. Because even in the bustle of Hollywood’s chugging assembly line, we sometimes lose our faith in what makes the hero’s journey so rewarding.
Sure, it might be subjected to bells and whistles, galore; in the end, The Jungle Book embraces itself for its “bare necessities,” leaving you to fall wildly in love with the magic of it all, all over again.
The Jungle Book is now playing in movie theaters everywhere! Some local venues include AMC Clifton Commons 16, AMC Loews Wayne 14 and even Bow Tie Bellevue Cinemas 4 in the heart of downtown Montclair. For a list of even more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com today!