‘For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.’ This is the mantra of the Wolf pack that Mowgli belongs to. Only that Mowgli is not a wolf but a man cub that is now part of the Wolf pack.
You probably read the story of Mowgli in the Jungle Book when you were a kid or watched the movie. But if you haven’t here is a rundown of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale of Jungle Book. When Mowgli is a baby he is found abandoned by the wise panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). He brings the child to the wolf pack which is headed by Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and mother wolf Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) who brings him up with her other cubs. Bagheera still keeps an eye on him and helps him train to be more of a wolf.
Mowgli has grown up in the forest without any problems until there is a bad drought. Most of the river dries up and only one watering hole has water. When the water goes low the peace rock is exposed. When this happens a water truce is usually in place and all animals can come to drink water without fear of being attacked by the predators. Tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) comes to drink at the watering hole and finds out that Mowgli is living among the wolves. Having being scarred by man he is not happy because Mowgli is there and demands that the man cub be given to him so that he can eat him. He threatens the wolves that if Mowgli is not given to him by the time the rains end he will attack the wolves.
Mowgli decides to leave the wolf pack so as to not bring trouble. Bagheera is to take him but on the way they get separated and Mowgli has to find his way. During this time he meets sly Baloo (Bill Murray), the mysterious serpent Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and the crazy gigantopithecus King Louie (Christopher Walken). During this time Shere Khan terrorises the wolf pack and promises there will be no peace until Mowgli comes back.
Will Mowgli be able to save his wolf family and the animals in the forest from the crazy tiger Shere Khan?
Neel Sethi does a great job as Mowgli and is very easily to fall in love with. You can’t help but cheer him on. It is a coming of age tale and I loved it.
The voice work is exceptional. Idris Elba is menacing as Shere Khan (that man got talent). I enjoyed Scarlett Johansson as the Serpent Kaa. I have always loved Baloo and Bill Murray brought him out very well. The dialogue is great and the actors really brought out their characters.
The movie had a dark streak with the cruelty of Shere Khan but there are light moments like Mowgli and Baloo singing the bare necessities that give it a light touch.
If you compare it to other versions done before it is a better production and has more edge. It doesn’t start where the book starts which are when Mowgli was brought to the village but we see where he came from somewhere in the middle and we get to understand why Shere Khan hates the boy.
The CGI was fantastic. The computer generated created animals looked very real. The visual effects were awesome. The forest and the animals looked so real. And of course things always look good in 3D.
Jungle book is an adventure story for children and it takes them on a real adventure. It has lessons on family, loss and violence. It is the kind of movie that will take children (and adults) on a wondrous journey in the forest as Mowgli discovers who he is.
One of the lessons I loved in the movie was about the role of Elephants in creating and maintaining forests. It has a lot to teach on conservation and the idea of saving forests. Mowgli also has to learn the hard lesson that fire is not something to be taken lightly.
One of my favourite lines of the movie is when Mowgli says ‘For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack’
Baloo exclaims, “That’s not a song, that’s propaganda!”
Although Balo dismisses it as propaganda the wolf pack do come to the defense of Mowgli when he needs them most. This is a great way to teach kids about being part of a family.
I would recommend this movie. I would give it a 9.5 out of 10. I had a great time watching it and time just seemed to stand still because it was so interesting. It is a great movie to watch with the kids but some critics have advised that some of the scenes might scare little children.
Jungle Book will start showing on the 15th of April at the Planet Media Cinemas.