Monday, April 25, 2016

The Jungle Book - An Honest Review by a Child of the 90's

VHS Cover of The Jungle Book
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It's been a week since The Jungle Book has been out in theaters and I've purposely kept to myself about what I thought of the new version of the film. Being a child of the 90's, The Jungle Book was re-released to theaters in 1990 and subsequently released to VHS home video in 1991. This was one of the films I watched over and over again as a kid. I also remember the live action film that was by the same name in 1994. It stood alone as a film that displayed some characters from the original animated feature, but instead told a story about Mowgli as an adult. If you want to read more about that film, click here.

The reason for my long winded history lesson? Well, I was not excited about this latest adaptation of the animated film. In fact, in my mind, I swore I would not bother seeing it. So many times has a favorite childhood franchise of mine been readapted for the newest generation of kids that in no way shape or form makes my childhood memories feel rekindled. I know a lot of you feel the same way. Even with all the hype throughout the film on social media and the push in products throughout the blogosphere, I was still unimpressed. That was until I read the status of another friend of mine on Facebook. As a likeminded child of the 80's, we are pretty in sync with our opinions about films. After reading his praises for this new version, my interest was peeked. 

The Jungle Book is the same story from the 1967 animated feature, but it includes some of the details from Rudyard Kipling's literary masterpiece (and yes, I've actually read it). From the beginning of the film, my attention was drawn to the small nods of the original animated feature. From the familiar melodies in the background, the striking similarity between Ben Kingsley's voice and the Bagheera I remembered (voiced by Sebastian Cabot), and the amazing way they tried to keep some aspects of the original film embedded into this new live action film; Everything was amazing. I even appreciated the way Bill Murray toned down his own comedic tone to accurately depict the beloved Baloo the Bear. SPOILER: The true jewel for me was the inclusion of the famous book sequences that each of Disney's original animated features included. That, friends, made my heart sing.

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The one petty critique I have of the film was the unnecessary need to have King Louie sing his famous song "I Wanna Be Like You". Unlike Baloo's "The Bare Necessities" performance, King Louie's song inclusion felt extremely forced. I truly could have done without it being in the film. Instead, what they did in the credit sequence would have been good enough (reason enough to sit and watch the credits, friends).

If you have yet to make your decision to see the film, know this: It will not let you down. Now as an adult, there were moments that I could appreciate sharing with the next generation. The lessons of respect for culture and in turn acceptance of new ideas. That is something I want to introduce to our own future man cubs.

Click to watch the amazing trailer below.

Have you seen the film yet? What did you think of this new retelling?
Comment below!

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