Saturday, May 7, 2016

Film review: THE JUNGLE BOOK

Human child and computer-made monkeys.
Having had a decidedly deficient childhood, I somehow missed reading the book or seeing any filmed or animated version of Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" until earlier tonight, when I caught the movie of that name  currently in theaters now. Directed by Jon Favreau, it features hundreds of realistic, computer-generated creatures running around a very realistic, computer-generated jungle. In the middle of it all is one live actor named Neel Sethi, an incredible youngster with a cherubic face and lots of talent. He plays Mowgli, an abandoned orphan raised by wolves and befriended by all the animals in the jungle. Voices for these animals are supplied by some of Hollywood's finest, including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken in memorable leading roles.

Supposedly made for a target audience of children, the film is often very dark and scary. For example, a truly menacing tiger lurks in the jungle, bent on killing our young hero for the sin of being a human. Looking not at all computer-generated but instead like he could and happily would tear you limb from limb with his hideous, giant fangs, he is but one among several reasons I caution you not to bring very young or very impressionable children to see this film. Even an impressionable adult might find it difficult to watch the violent and bloody interactions between warring animals. Falling into this category, I had to cover my eyes more than once.

Fortunately I remembered that it was all done by computers and that animals don't really talk, so I stayed until the end and I'm glad I did. While the movie is mostly a blast to watch, it pales in comparison to the final credits which are definitely of "must-see" caliber, especially for fans of Christopher Walken. And in case you care about such things, the list of names of the people involved in making the film equals the population of a small city. It's fascinating to watch them as they scroll by, and takes a good long while.


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