Jon Favreau’s ‘The Jungle Book’

Lillian Lokonobei, Staff Writer

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Setting records at the box office, The Jungle Book debuted last Friday in theatres all across America.

It is a nostalgic adventure back to childhood, giving viewers a new rendition of the tale of Mowgli, a man-cub who was left orphaned and abandoned after his father was killed in the jungle. Mowgli is the only human in the movie and is played by Neel Sethi. His human nature is to make tools, use his “tricks” and natural human ability to live in the Jungle. In order to learn the ways of the pack, he is chastised whenever he uses his human abilities.

He is raised by mother wolf Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o), Akela the Alpha wolf (Giancarlo Esposito) and a pack of wolves. During a water-truce at Peace Rock waterhole, he is threatened by a tiger named Sher Khan (Idris Elba) who warns to kill the man-cub…saying man is not welcome in the Jungle. The pack is divided. Should Mowgli stay and be protected or should he leave for the safety of the rest of the group?

Mowgli decides on his own that he should leave and sets off with Bagheera the panther (Ben Kingsley) to the man village. However, as the pair journeyed to the man village, Sher Khan ambushes them in a futile attempt to kill Mowgli. He runs off and gets away but he finds himself alone deep into an area of the jungle that he has never been. After finding some fruit to eat, Mowgli climbs up into a canopy of branches where is he is entranced by Kaa,, a deceiving snake (Scarlett Johnasson).

During his hyptonized trance, Mowgli sees visions of his late father and his encounter with Sher Khan. The “Red Flower” is shown and he is warned of its destructive elements that man created. While passing by, Baloo the bear (Bill Murray) sees Kaa hypnotizing Mowgli and saves him from being eaten.

Baloo and Mowgli now set off into the Jungle so that Mowgli can pay Baloo back for saving him. The only way he can do that is if he gets him some honey—conveniently hanging under the edge of a cliff. Since Baloo cannot climb, Mowgli reluctantly agrees to get him the honey. Viewers begin to see the two bond as Baloo and Mowgli become friends. Mowgli changes his mind about going to the man village just yet and decides to stay with Baloo just until winter when he begins hibernation.

Things seem to have gone back to normal at home where Raksha and the pack reside. The water-truce has ended and Sher Khan goes looking for Mowgli. He confronts Akela about Mowgli’s whereabouts and when the alpha wolf reveals that he left the pack for the man village, Sher Khan throws Akela over the cliff, killing him. Sher Khan claims control of the pack hoping for Mowgli to return.

Since the ambush, Bagheera searched for Mowgli and unexpectedly finds him with Baloo floating in the river. Mowgli confesses that he has decided to wait to go to the village with Bagheera and as tensions rise they all head to bed to make a decision in the morning. Baloo ultimately tells Mowgli that the best thing to do is to go back to the man village. In a fit, he runs off and climbs a tree. A group of monkeys kidnap him and take him to the monkey temple where King Louie (Christopher Walken) resides. King Louie is a garguantuan orangutan-like primate who reigns over the monkeys. He tries to convince Mowgli to bring him the forbidden “red flower”—fire—so that he can be like man. Just in time, Baloo and Bagheera find them at the temple and try to rescue Mowgli. King Louie chases him through the temple as Baloo and Bagheera fight off the primate troop. King Louie teases him that he has no where to return to, because Akela is dead. Mowgli escapes out of the temple leaving the monkey king and his minions behind. Later he confronts Baloo and Bagheera afterwards about keeping the devastating news from him. Angered, Mowgli runs off to get the “red flower” from the man village.

In one scene as Baloo and Bagheera frantically search for Mowgli, nightfall is now upon them. They see Mowgli with the “red flower” running through the Jungle towards Peace Rock waterhole. Word spreads that man brought the red flower to the jungle and all the animals flee for safety. They all meet and Mowgli is revealed as the man holding a torch with the “red flower”. He summons Sher Khan as his fear leaves him. As the light from his torch graces the scared faces of the animals of the jungle, he looks behind him at the jungle realizes what he has done. An ember from his torch fell, starting a fire. He throws the torch into the waterhole and Sher Khan takes that moment to try to attack Mowgli.

Little does Sher Khan know, the animals all stand together to protect one another. Mowgli is a part of the pack and is a part of the jungle too! Mowgli sets off and runs as the other animals hold off the tiger for as long as they can.

In the final scene, Mowgli lures Sher Khan into a dead tree in the fire-y jungle. He climbs up and uses his forbidden “tricks” to trap the tiger that is climbing the tree to kill him. His bravery and lack of fear allows him to climb onto a dry branch as Sher Khan corners him. The tiger leaps to end him and Mowgli hops off to a swing to safety as Sher Khan falls to his death in a fire pit below.

The fire is extinguished and all is at peace in the jungle after the death of Sher Khan. Mowgli returns to the wolf pack with his mother Raksha as the new Alpha. Not only did he learn more about himself, Mowgli finds his home in the jungle with his friends Baloo and Bagheera.

 

Mowgli and Baloo in Disney's new "The Jungle Book"

Mowgli and Baloo in Disney’s new “The Jungle Book”. Photo Credit: MCT Campus

The voice actors casted for the movie are phenomenal. Lupita Nyong’o—Oscar winner and my personal favorite person ever—was chosen to voice Raksha, Mowgli’s mother wolf. She effortlessly captures the essence of a loving and protective mother as she includes Mowgli in every activity and encourages him as a part of the pack.

Bill Murray voices Baloo and takes viewers back down memory lane as he sings the well-know “Bare Necessities” in a scene of him lazily floating down a stream with Mowgli. He added a comedic charm to the film with a lot of hidden jokes for parents and older viewers to chuckle at.

Bagheera is voiced by the amazing actor Ben Kingsley. His British accent and demeanor allows the animated panther to have a personality of that of a mentor or protective guardian. He perfectly voiced the character and added some nostalgia for viewers who watched the 1967 Disney version of the film.

Sher Khan was my absolute favorite voice actor cast for the film. The duality in his voice contrasted between rage and charm. In the movie trailer, he joins the animals at Peace Rock during the water-truce and says, “I can’t help but notice there’s this strange odor today,” citing the man-cub’s presence at the waterhole. He makes viewers hate him, a clear-cut way to know how great of an actor he is.

The film did the book justice but the ending was completely different that the original. It didn’t include the original part in where Baloo and Bagheera take Mowgli back to the man village and he spots a beautiful, young girl fetching water. He follows her into the village and Baloo and Bagheera are content that Mowgli is safe in the village. As someone who has seen both versions of the film, this newest depiction is still as great as the last and definitely lived up to the hype of its trailers.

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Jon Favreau’s ‘The Jungle Book’