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By Megan Bianco
Despite Disney’s history and reputation for reimagining classic fairytales, the one famous story the studio revisits the most is the 1894 Rudyard Kipling tale “The Jungle Book.” Most remembered as the 1967 animated musical, it was then filmed as a gritty action/adventure in 1994. Then the animated film got a terribly received sequel in 2003, and now a CGI/live-action hybrid carries on the tradition. Directed by Jon Favreau of Elf (2003) and Iron Man (2008) fame, the updated adaptation is a visual feast.
Ten-year-old Indian boy Mowgli (Neel Sethi) has been raised in the jungle by a wolf pack and black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) since he was orphaned as a baby. As he avidly tries to fit into the jungle despite his human qualities by acting and living like a wolf, menacing and deadly tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) discovers Mowgli’s existence. The tiger wants nothing more than to eat the boy whole, while Bagheera and sloth bear Baloo (Bill Murray) lead Mowgli to the nearest man village.
Christopher Walken and Scarlett Johansson make appearances voicing King Louie and Kaa the snake. Favreau wisely chose to make the new retelling of The Jungle Book a combination of the intensity of the 1994 film and the lightheartedness of the 1967 cartoon. With beautiful CGI and cinematography for the animals and landscape and newly interpreted recordings of “The Bare Necessities,” “I Wanna be Like You,” and “Trust in Me,” The Jungle Book is just right for anyone who is a fan of Disney, Kipling or IMAX.