‘The Jungle Book’ BluRay Review: A Must-Have Piece Of Art
Disney’s live action reboot of The Jungle Book is as impressive visually as it is musically, with a strong start and a quality finish.
Opening up with an incredible chase scene, the movie shows the main character, the human boy Mawgli, who appears to be running from wolves, yet is soon passed by them. The group runs from the panther, but Mawgli is unable to keep up. Using the trees as an alternate path where the panther cannot catch him, he is soon caught by the panther. And simply scolded.
The panther, Bagheera, found him, and gave him to wolf mother Raksha, but he did not grow like a wolf would. We then see a crestfallen Mawgli sitting with his mother and his incredibly cute puppy brothers. To give some perspective, I am a 22-year-old man, and I wanted to squeal at the top of my lungs at the site. Mawgli and all the other wolves recite an incantation of how wolves are powerful in a pack.
The narrator speaks of the dry season and suddenly all the creatures are forced to live side-by side at the watering hole without doing violence upon each other. This allows the film to introduce each pack along with the interesting characters and food chain that come with it. Mawgli is seen for what he is, a strange “man cub” and is chastised for using “tricks” such as the use of a bucket of water. Suddenly the birds caw and stop.
The tiger, Shar Khan, comes down and is met with fear. True to the CGI tigers as seen in Life of Pi, he brings the plot. He takes a drink before making a speech about how man should not be here, as his eye was destroyed by man. The wolves tell him to leave them be, as he has never acted upon the law or with a pack, he has hunted alone for pleasure and power. The tiger retorts that he does indeed respect the laws, and with this, once the dry season is over and the water truce is over, “how many lives is a man cub worth?”
As the animals all act semi-human in their reaction to rain, the wolves debate how to go about dealing with Mawgli. This takes days with no conclusion, Mawgli volunteers to leave. Bagheera states he will lead him elsewhere, and Raksha is heartbroken. As the rain simulates tears and sadness, Raksha says a powerful, motherly speech as he leaves his mother.
Bagheera transports Mawgli to the humans slowly as Mawgli tries to convince him to join somebody else. The waterfall in the background signifies the beginning of his adventure. Surely as Mawgli grows more impatient and upset at the lack of choice he is given, Shar Khan goes in for the kill. Before he would inevitably be caught by the tiger, the surrounding ox save him, creating a stampede.
In response to his failure, Shar Khan kills the pack alpha. On the mountains, the sudden mudslide causes him and the oxen to fall into the river. When he comes back up, he finds himself in a mysterious part of the jungle. After getting his food stolen from him, the familiar voice of Scarlet Johansson accompanies Kaa, the snake lady. She comes to give him hallucinations of what actually happened to him in the past between him, his father, Shar Khan, and fire. Before attempting to kill him, bear noises are heard as he falls.
As long as we’re introducing the voices of famous actors, here’s Bill Murray. Baloo makes Mawgli get him honey in trade for his life while providing comedy with his three stooge companions. As he and his pals do perverted jokes, Baloo intends to make Mawgli his little buddy for the purpose of more honey, he takes him to the man village.
Baloo’s carefree and supportive ways influence Mawgli, the only “person” to not scold him for his use of tricks. Meanwhile, Raksha’s children are being influenced by Shar Khan. Mawgli creates a pulley system and then sings “Bear Necessities.” Bagheera meets up with them and intensely scolds the both of them for their tricks. He states they leave first thing in the morning.
In the middle of the night, the elephants make a commotion, as their young has fallen and can’t get up. With the full power of life alert system he saves the elephant with his tricks, and Bagheera is proven wrong. Baloo tries to convince Bagheera, as thinks Mawgli is special, yet he did not know that Shar Khan was the one that was after him. Baloo doesn’t let him down easy in true Disney betrayal fashion. Just when everything was going according to Bagheera’s plan, he is captured by apes. What a life.
As Baloo and Bagheera chase after him, Baloo proves the one thing he didn’t lie about was his fear of heights. Mawgli find himself inside of a temple meeting King “Louie.” The gigantopificus, King “Louie,” voiced by Christopher Walken, is large and intimidating yet oddly friendly, like a mafia leader. And like a regular mafia fellow, he wants a weapon, the power of fire. He sings about how much he’d like the red flower, when Baloo distracts him and lets Mawgli escape. Soon, Mawgli’s escape attempt becomes his and Louie’s one-on-one interview. The meeting turns violent, and in the midst of the rubble Mawgli runs to the man village, determined to do something about pack leader Akela’s death.
He sees the people standing around the fire and is intimidated. Rather than joining them he takes their fire and runs through the forest at night. Naturally, this causes a commotion, and he sets the forest ablaze. Shar Khan says he’s predicted what he’d become, but Mawgli puts out his torch. His friends help to protect him as he gathers branches from the dead tree. The Shar Khan follows him, and starts setting up a trap. After climbing the tree, Shar Khan attempts to taunt Mawgli, yet Mawgli does the same to Shar Khan and it gets Shar burned to a crip. Shar Khan? More like CHARRED KHAN! (Don’t judge me.)
In the end, Mawgli is recognized as his own part of the jungle, not as a wolf, yet as part of a pack of something greater, even though he might not fit in. Raksha leads the pack now as the trio of Baloo, Bagheera, and Mawgli live in peace. The credits show more stunning visuals as the full version of Walken’s song is played along with the unused song “Trust in Me,” sung by Johansssson and another version of “Bear Necessities.”
I initially expected the plot to be gritty and depressing, and it was, to a point. It certainly wasn’t as lighthearted as it used to be, but where the light hearted emotion went, something powerful and dramatic replaced it. The Jungle Book might have changed its original image, yet the remaining image is something incredible. You might have noticed I wasn’t trying to be as funny this time around. This is out of respect for this piece of art. The DVD, with special features, features over two hours of special features, featuring special features such as a layer by layer comparison of the graphical and audio versions of the King Louie’s temple scene, “I Am Mawgli,” audio commentary, and “The Jungle Book Reimagined.” How special. The DVD is a must have, easily being one of the best animated movies of the year. The Jungle Book, in every way, is an ode to the evolution of the Disney Empire and how it has transformed the way it produces its entertainment.