The Jungle Book, Blu-ray (2016)

A delightful live action family movie version of the Disney animated classic.

The Jungle Book, Blu-ray (2016)

Only live action human: Neel Sethi
Voice-overs: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johanssen, Christopher Walken, Idris Elba
Director: Jon Favreau
Studio: Walt Disney 135331 (8/30/16) (also avail. in 3D)
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 screens, HD 1080p color
Audio: English, DTS-HD MA 7.1, DD 5.1 English descriptive audio,
Spanish, French
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: “The Jungle Book Reimangined,” “I Am Mowgli,” King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer, Audio commentary during film with director
Length: 106 min.
Rating: ****

This is not the original Disney animated classic of the stories of Rudyard Kipling, but a live action version which closely follows the story of the original but uses modern CGI effects for everything but the live “human cub,” with the various major animals voiced by a string of top celebrities that add a great deal to the English version. The winner is for me the voice (and singing talents) of the amazing Christopher Walken as the gigantic gorilla who lives in a ruined Buddhist temple, although Bill Murray is also wonderful as the bear, Balloo. (In the animated original, Louis Prima voiced the big gorilla.) Bagheera, the black panther, is a sagacious protector of Mowgli (and voiced by Ben Kingsley.) The realism of the CGI animals is amazing, whether they talk or not. Disney evidently spared no expense in making them completely believable.

Mowgli is a man-cub raised by a pack of wolves after his father is killed by the mean Bengal tiger of the jungle.  He is perfectly happy in his present home, talking with all the animals, but he is forced to abandon it in order to return to the humans to steal “the red flower,” which is really fire. While family films are of little interest to many, this one is a fine piece of work and easily boasts a better adaptation of the story than the original animated version. It would be worthwhile to any adult. The extras are also most interesting, and stay around for the credits, which have the CGI crew outdoing themselves on Kipling’s Jungle Book.

I don’t think this one was shot originally in 3D but I imagine the 3D version would still be great to see, with all the animals and special effects, although often super-fast cutting wasn’t designed for IMAX.

—John Sunier

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