The Jungle Book (2016)
May 5, 2016 6:20 PM - Subscribe

The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don't have his best interests at heart.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I kinda want to see this just for Scarlett Johanssen as Kaa. Bill Murray helps.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:27 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I very nearly missed the best part, which was the rerecorded songs that play over the credits (ScarJo doesn't get a whole lot to do in the actual film, but her version of "Trust In Me" was spot-on.)

The whole thing was fun and very, very pretty, and didn't offend me as someone who has a deep fondness for the animated original. (Although halfway through this one I realized I have *no memory* of the plot of the original.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:03 PM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I actually found Bill Murray the weakest casting: too cynical and weary for Baloo, and a little distracting. Ben Kingsley made a magnificent Bagheera though.

The songs within the movie felt a little shoehorned in, in a "well we've GOT to do a couple of them" kind of way; this version isn't really a musical at all so it's odd the couple of times that characters burst into song.

It's beautifully shot; I suspect it's almost all CG, but the landscapes are very pretty and the animals are very convincing.

I realized I have *no memory* of the plot of the original.

I have some memory of it, but I have also read the stories so that maybe colors it a bit. I remember Kaa having more of a role in the animated version? And this one also has more of a "well, everything's OK now then" ending; it skips the bittersweet "Mowgli sees The Girl and everyone realizes that he is going to leave the jungle anyway" coda.

I think this one made Shere Khan a little more ambiguous: he's the villain, but he's also kind of right about how dangerous Man is to the forest.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:26 PM on May 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


I actually found Bill Murray the weakest casting: too cynical and weary

That's why you cast him: cynical and weary. And also quips.

I'm on the fence about seeing this, so.... watching this thread with interest.
posted by Mezentian at 6:29 AM on May 6, 2016


I was hesitant to see this too. I've had enough remakes and reboots, especially with beloved childhood movies, I don't care for anthropomorphic animals, or cartoons made into live action films. Still, it was pretty good.

The visuals were amazing, though I was at the drive in, so I'm not sure how they hold up with a little clearer viewing. Mowgli was as good as you could hope for with a kid. Shere Khan and Bagheera were fantastic, but as much as I love Bill Murray, I want blown away by Baloo. There wasn't enough Kaa for my liking.

I saw it back to back with Zootopia, which makes for a whole lot of heavy handed preaching in my children's movies. The message in Jungle Book is interesting though, because it basically amounts to "humans are the worst species of all" and doesn't try hard to disavow that.

(While Mowgli is in clear hero territory, we also see how he screws up the balance in the forest when he nabs all the bee hives for a gluttonous Baloo. The only way he can truly live in harmony is by giving up his human tricks.)

One thing the movie happily ignores is that wildfires do occur naturally and are an important part of the ecosystem. Not that I expect animals losing their homes and their lives to acknowledge or appreciate that of course.
posted by 2ht at 7:17 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


The songs within the movie felt a little shoehorned in, in a "well we've GOT to do a couple of them" kind of way; this version isn't really a musical at all so it's odd the couple of times that characters burst into song.

Yeah, I really liked the movie, and I really, really, like the original songs. I even thought the end-credits versions were pretty good.

But, the in-movie versions seemed like blatant "notes from the studio" that required the movie to have them in order to sell more of the original movie's soundtracks. They did not fit at all, and seemed like something Jon Favreau had to put in so Disney didn't fire him or something.

I take a little bit of "shout out to the original!!" pandering, but those songs did not work at all.
posted by sideshow at 12:45 PM on May 6, 2016


Yeah, King Louie's goofiness in the 1st Disney version's "I Wanna be Just Like You" doesn't fit well with his menace in the remake.
posted by brujita at 1:02 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was hoping they would stick with the subtle nod to the music that they used with Kaa, a strain in the background and her saying 'trust in me.' It seemed they were going that way with Bare Necessities and then gave in to the whole song. By the time we get to I Want To Be Like You, they basically went off the rails. And in all that, not even a suggestion of the Elephant March! Loved Johannson's full version of Trust In Me over the credits though.

My son (8.5yo) and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The 3D wasn't distracting (something that I find a real problem for my aging eyes - Force Awakens was a bit hard to watch at times, for example). Very pretty and basically the echoes the plot of the animated version, except for the very end.

Can someone who's read the books comment as to whether Mowgli ever does go back to the village?
posted by kokaku at 1:49 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Can someone who's read the books comment as to whether Mowgli ever does go back to the village?

The answer is yes and then no: he leaves after Shere Khan successfully gets him exiled, goes to the village and is adopted--and then the villagers kick him out after he finally kills Shere Khan (they believe he's some kind of sorceror). He forms a new pack with four wolves and remains in the jungle again until his late teens, at which point he feels strange urges (ahem) and finally has to leave for good. In the first Mowgli tale, "In the Rukh," which predates the two Jungle Books by some time and may or may not be in the same continuity (even Kipling was a little ambivalent about that), Mowgli encounters members of the imperial Forestry department, goes to work for them, and gets married (wolves still in tow). Despite being written for children, aside from "In the Rukh," the stories are actually fairly dark, not least because Mowgli cannot remain in the jungle but also cannot fully adapt to human society, either; even after he's married and has a child, he and his family remain isolated in the woods. Both this film and its animated predecessor make Mowgli far cuter than he is in Kipling's story cycle (where he is, in effect, an apex predator-in-training), and make Shere Khan far more dangerous.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


To follow up on thomas j. wise:

* Rudyard Kipling published his first short story about Mowgli in the 1893 "In the Rukh"; this is Mowgli as an adult, an employee of the British Forestry Service and, at the end, a husband and father.
* Kipling published a collection of short stories, with Mogli's origin story, as "The Jungle Book" in 1894; this is the one most people know of or refer to. (Not every story in this book is about Mowgli, although most of them are.)
* Kipling published another collection of short stories, a follow-up to "The Jungle Book" that takes Mowgli up to about age 17, in 1895 as "The Second Jungle Book". (Again, not every story is about Mowgli.)
* In 1933, the Mowgli stories were collected into one book for the first time, called (duh) "All the Mowgli Stories".

Other people have also written stories about Mowgli, but they were never authorized by Kipling or his estate; they were mostly written after the copyrights fell into public domain. The first Mowgli-containing movie was made in 1942, if you care about that.
posted by easily confused at 6:50 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and for what it's worth: the King Louie character is totally a creation of the cartoon Disney version; there's nothing like him in the original books or any previous movies --- the monkeys kidnapped Mowgli because they wanted him to be their king, not to assist an existing king. And Kaa, like almost every other Jungle Book character, was male; they've really trimmed his/her appearances way down.

That said, yes, I did enjoy this movie version, actually considerably more than the animated version --- it's played less for laughs, and for me at least that works better.
posted by easily confused at 7:28 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had the best time at this movie; I was kind of 'meh' about going, and didn't see the point of a Jungle Book remake, but then I watched the trailer and was SOLD. That trailer is impressive - Kaa doesn't speak a whole lot but they took what she does say and spread it out with pauses for effect. It's very dramatic and asks those primal questions about identity. Johanssen's voice is PERFECT for voice-over acting and she was well-cast as Kaa - all of them were well-cast, except for Bill Murray, who I think had some very big shoes to fill from the original Baloo (voice-acted by Phil Harris in the 1967 Disney animated version).

Ben Kingsley - is there nothing he cannot do? Outstanding as Bagheera, as was Idris Elba as Shere Khan and Lupita Nyong'o as Raksha. Garry Shandling (RIP) voiced Ikki. The little boy Mowgli was played by Neel Sethi and I thought he was pretty good - this kind of movie can really sink with a fakey child actor; I believed he was feeling what he was feeling.

Mezentian, if you see this - and I hope you do, it is a fun, well-done film - see it in 3D - it's the first film that I was actually embracing the 3D aspect (they don't do cheesy stuff like try to make you flinch with stuff flying out at you, either, which I appreciate because I flinch easily!).

Visually it is just a _stunning_ film, and remind me of Bambi in the Disney tradition of 'coming of age/life lessons' against the harsh backdrop of Nature. (I know it's written by Kipling of course but Disney has a history of these stories.)

Lastly, building on my partner, We had a deal, Kyle, above: Shere Khan was quite correct, I couldn't fully embrace the character as a baddie because his message - that man was a threat and doesn't belong with them in the jungle - turned out to be very true.

Cannot recommend enough - see it in the theater, it was tons of fun and I cannot remember having a better time at the movies recently. I hate to gush so much but I'm so glad Disney gave me this experience.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:58 PM on May 12, 2016


Also, I love cats so much that I couldn't get my hate on for Shere Khan. HEADCANNON: He fell but somehow landed in a bare spot devoid of fire, reconciled with the wolves and Mowgli afterwards, tra la la we're all friends now...
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:02 PM on May 12, 2016


Mezentian, if you see this - and I hope you do, it is a fun, well-done film - see it in 3D - it's the first film that I was actually embracing the 3D aspect (they don't do cheesy stuff like try to make you flinch with stuff flying out at you, either, which I appreciate because I flinch easily!).

My partner took her niece to see it and enjoyed it. I will take this on board. I'll probably miss it in 3D because of timing, but if I can find a window, I will see this.
posted by Mezentian at 3:51 AM on May 13, 2016


So King Louie is not in the original? And he is only named "Louie" because he was voiced by musician Louis Prima?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:28 AM on May 20, 2016


So King Louie is not in the original?

posted by I_Love_Bananas?

Seems a bit of a trap.
That said, that is my understanding.
posted by Mezentian at 8:14 AM on May 20, 2016


Yep, Louie is a purely Disney construct --- you'll never see him in any but the old Disney animated version plus this new CGI one; he doesn't exist in any of Kipling's stories or any previous movies. (Indeed, Kipling's monkeys don't have ANY king; their 'society' is a complete anarchy.) Whether or not he's named after Louis Prima, I couldn't say.
posted by easily confused at 3:53 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


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