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There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

Disney has been knocking it out of the park lately. Not just because they got Star Wars too! I was pretty startled and intrigued when they announced they were making The Jungle Book as a live-action movie. It’s not necessarily one of their most popular films, but I could see this leading to some very interesting choices down the road. They already are making a Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Mulan live action film. Could this be a sign The Lion King might be next? They proved in this they could do a movie with almost an entire CGI animal cast, with only one human. I am here for this, everyone. That being said, what about this movie? Did it live up to the success hype and high RT score? Let’s see.

Mowgli is a child (a man-cub) found by the black panther Bagheera and given to the wolf tribe so he’ll be raised by wolf mother Raksha. None of them attempt to eat him which is the most unrealistic part of this story, but that would make it very short. Mowgli grows up with his family and he’s very happy with them, although he thinks very creatively and he’s encouraged to hunt like a wolf, not like a man. All of the animals make a truce of sorts when a bad drought happens, and they agree to come together to drink without hurting one another. Shere Khan, a vicious and scarred tiger, comes back and he is not pleased there is a man with them. A man scarred his face with fire, and it turns out to be Mowgli’s father, I believe. I don’t think that was necessary, it’s not like we need a connection to Mowgli’s parents in this story, but whatevs. It makes it more personal. Shere Khan says that when the peace/truce is broken, he will come and kill the kid. So Mowgli is forced to say goodbye to his family after wolf leader Akela tries to protect him but can’t, and Bagheera takes him toward the man village so he can move on.

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Mowgli goes through several adventures, and he’s stubbornly against going to a man village, preferring the jungle. At one point he and Bagheera are attacked by Shere Khan, so he realizes the danger he’s in, and he safely gets away. After nearly being eaten by a terrifying snake called Kaa, he’s rescued by sloth bear Baloo. He wants Mowgli for his own ends, to help him get honey from an intense bee hive. He’s surprised when Mowgli actually accomplishes it using his wits, and encourages his smart and creative mind rather than telling him to act less like a man. They bond and sing “Bare Necessities” and Baloo considers keeping Mowgli as his own. Bagheera talks him out of it and points out how dangerous the jungle is for the boy now. Baloo pushes Mowgli away, and then he’s kidnapped by King Louis and all his monkeys. See King Louis wants to learn how to make fire so he’ll be dangerous, more like the humans. Everyone’s all about the fire or the “red flower.” Mowgli escapes with the help of Baloo and Bagheera, but he leaves them behind when he finds out Akela has been murdered and they kept it from him. He wants to take Shere Khan head on, since he’s taken over the wolf camp.

Mowgli takes the red flower from the village nearby and takes it toward Shere Khan, but he doesn’t realize he’s basically set the damn forest on fire. THAT’S WHY THEY FEAR YOU, KID. Not the best idea. His family and friends try to help him stand up to Shere Khan, but in the end he leads the tiger into the on fire jungle. He tricks him using his wits, and Shere Khan is killed … well he falls into the fire so it’s assumed. With the danger gone, he stays with his new family and doesn’t go back to the village! Well that’s different! I like it. ┬áHe doesn’t have the weird ‘I’ve hit puberty’ moment like in the Disney version.

So thoughts on this. The CGI is fantastic. It’s gorgeous. I was constantly going WOW when I watched it. The kid did an exceptional job considering everything was green screen for him, including when he had to have conversations with animals that weren’t there. He was emotional and funny and awkward and angry. Perfect Mowgli. The voice acting was all stellar as you’d expect. The only real strange part was Louis attempting to do the “I wanna be like you” song because it didn’t fit this movie at all. The Bare Necessities fit in with them, and it was just a quick ditty with the two of them. Christopher Walken is an odd choice for a voice pretty much always, but he is definitely entertaining. Honestly I can say only good things about this. It’s a really great movie. It’s a little more accurate to the books with less of the frilly animated Disney moments, and Bill Murray sounds like he cares for the first time in years. I do wonder if it’s a little scary and intense for little kids, so maybe keep that in mind if you bring them. But overall solid A film. I look forward to owning it.

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