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Movie Review

The Jungle Book also known as “The Jungle Book: Origins,” “El Libro de la Selva,” “El libro de la selva,” “Le Livre de la jungle,” “Mogli: O Menino Lobo,” “Jungelboken,” “Junglebogen,” “A dzsungel könyve,” “Cartea Junglei,” “Das Dschungelbuch,” “Djungelboken,” “Il libro della giungla,” “Kniha dzunglí,” “Knjiga o džungli,” “Ksiega dzungli,” “O Livro da Selva,” “Orman Çocugu,” “Viidakkokirja”

MPAA Rating: PG for some sequences of scary action and peril.

Reviewed by: Jessica D. Lovett
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family Teens Adults
Genre:
Live-action+CGI Family Fantasy Adventure Drama Adaptation 3D IMAX
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
April 15, 2016 (wide—3,700+ theaters)
DVD: August 30, 2016
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures2
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

orphans in the Bible

wolves and bears

animals in the Bible

bravery / courage

Rudyard Kipling

Wikipedia article about author Rudyard Kipling, a Free Mason

According to Michael Aidin (The Kipling Society), author Rudyard Kipling was a Deist, not a Christian.


Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
The Rainforest: People, Animals and Facts
Learn about the rainforest by meeting some native peoples, seeing where and how they live, and more! A cross-cultural photo-rich journey that will leave you with a lasting impression.
Featuring: Neel Sethi … Mowgli
Scarlett JohanssonKaa (voice)
Idris ElbaShere Khan (voice)
Bill MurrayBaloo (voice)
Christopher WalkenKing Louie (voice)
Ben KingsleyBagheera (voice)
Giancarlo Esposito … Akela (voice)
Ralph Ineson … Rama (voice)
Lupita Nyong'o … Raksha (voice)
more »
Director: Jon Favreau—“Iron Man” 1-3, “Cowboys and Aliens” (2011), “Elf” (2003)
Producer: Fairview Entertainment
Moving Picture Company
Walt Disney Pictures
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

As the slightly samba, mellow notes of the familiar theme music swelled and the lush jungle scenery of “The Jungle Book” began on opening night at my local theater, those of us who grew up with the 1967 animated version of the story anxiously stared at the screen, waiting, not quite sure what to expect. After all, remakes aren’t usually all they’re cracked up to be. However, this new live-action version of “The Jungle Book” directed by Jon Favreau of “Iron Man” fame strikes just enough chords with the older version to resonate and yet strings enough new notes together to not feel too stale and rehashed.

Adults watching the film are sure to be amused by the actors in the animal voice-over parts. Bill Murray got many audible laughs from kids in the audience as everyone’s favorite lovable-but-loyal slacker, bear Baloo. Murray singing “The Bare Necessities” was definitely worth the price of my matinée ticket. Sir Ben Kingsley added the perfect blend of raw power and paternal love in his portrayal of panther, Bagherra. Scarlett Johansson is smooth and scarily hypnotic as Kaa the python, while Christopher Walken’s giant (now extinct) Gigantopithecus—versus the orangutan from the cartoon—King Louie singing a threatening—while still peppy—New Orleans style “I Wanna Be Like You” will not soon be forgotten!

However, newcomer Neel Sethi steals the show. Only 10-years-old at the time, he nailed the look and the characterization of Mowgli. He portrays Mowgli as fiercely independent without as much of the impudence of the original cartoon character.

The CG animals could not be more real. I was continually amazed by the realism of their expressions, their fur, their movements… Just incredible. Beyond that, Neel Sethi’s divulgence in an interview made my jaw drop, having just seen the film. He said, “We didn’t go out to the jungle at all. I was just in New York—that’s where I live—and flew to LA, and that was just it. It was all blue screen, so there was no need for a jungle. Sometimes there was set there; anything I was touching or reacting with was actually there. They had dirt, and soil, and grass, and trees.”* Sorry to spoil it for you, if you haven’t seen it yet… Maybe I’m just gullible, but it looked completely real to me!

Content issues

Mowgli wears the traditional red diaper-wrapped undergarment, as in the cartoon. He is the only human that we really see close up in the film. Baloo says “what the heck” and “oh my gosh” once, and that’s the only language issue.

The main concern for younger viewers is the sheer onslaught of peril! Mowgli’s wolf and human fathers are both killed, he has to run from hordes of angry monkeys, the charging Shere Khan, stampeding buffalo, raging waters, a mudslide, swarms of bees… there’s a lot of running away from things. Shere Khan is scarred-looking from being injured in a fire and has a visibly damaged eye, which might scare younger viewers. Voice by Idris Elba, he is extremely menacing and forbidding, trying to manipulate the other animals with fearful tactics.

There are fight scenes with Shere Khan and also fight scenes with King Louie and the monkeys. One wolf is killed by being bitten by Khan and then thrown from a cliff. Mowgli’s human father is killed by Shere Khan, though this scene is mostly in silhouette. An animal is dramatically killed with ruins falling down on top of him, after a savage chase after Mowgli through dark, columned passageways. Another animal is killed falling from a tree into a fiery blaze. The “man’s red flower” line from the original “I Wanna Be Like You” song is used in the animal’s vernacular as their word for “fire,” and there are a couple of forest fires (one in a flashback) and a bonfire that present potentially scary moments.

And, lest I forget, Kaa is a gigantic serpent (python) that attempts to squeeze Mowgli to death. As I said, loads and loads of peril punctuated every so often with a little comic relief. If your child is fine with exciting moments and not swayed by fast moving action sequences, the movie is clearly designed for children and mostly bloodless in its action.

Not a true musical, the familiar, catchy songs echo here and there in the film in the expected places.

The ending is completely different and feels justified, given the new twists in the story. Mowgli is more respectful of the animals and natural laws of the jungle and is seen as a kinder, more resourceful, more self-sacrificing character than he was in the original animated film. Khan’s revenge is seen as unjust, and the animals show bravery standing up to his attempts to rule over them. The goal of bringing peace and unity to the jungle is brought out by Mowgli’s love for his jungle home.

Don’t be tempted to beat the crowd and sneak out before the end credits roll… There is a fun homage to classic Disney’s old tradition of having an antique hardcover book of the film’s namesake story lying over satiny fabric and have it open up to the story and beginning the film. The characters jump out of the book itself in a comical, light ending to the movie.

Violence: Moderate to Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Excellent production. Everything about this movie was well done. The boy who played Mowgli is absolutely adorable. It was a great movie realistically depicting a beloved childhood story. My husband and I enjoyed it. Wish there were more movies like this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Gloria, age 50 (USA)
Positive—Very well done. The digital animation is superb, especially realizing nearly everything in the movie is digitally animated to look live. Incredible. Very young kids may be frightened by the realistic peril, but will be encouraged by the loyalty and bravery of friends. The boy who plays Mowgli was great. The voice acting by Ben Kingsley as the panther, Bagheera, Christopher Walken as the ape king, Louie, and the others voicing the wolves, Kaa the python, and Shere Khan the Tiger were excellent. Bill Murray as Baloo, the bear, was a real highlight, because every one of his scenes were laugh out loud moments for kids and adults in the packed theater. Brilliant casting, voice acting, and digital animation.

Nice way they blended in elements from the original 60s animated film. One idea—it would’ve been fun if they’d been able to fit in a scene of the vultures, if Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr did the voiceovers, as the ones in the original film were to be the Beatles.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tori, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—Up front, I believe the reviewer is basically on track with their revew: Surprised at the quality of the filmmaking—the CGI is superb, and the selections for the voice were excellent. The small “salutes” to the Disney Jungle Book were spot-on for adults, but didn’t detract from the new story Jon Favreau was telling. I appreciated the lack of offensive language… parents need to be aware that there is a lot of “peril” in the movie. My wife saw it before I did and accompanied me, and she still JUMPED at a couple of scenes, and she knew it was coming.

My only note of concern is that, being based on the Kipling book, it has really nothing that would be a “Christian” message—not that I was expecting it, but to confirm it. While a good “fairy tale”—it has to be recognized that the message is devoid of Christ. It would be up to parents to be ready to explain this, and to respond to questions.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Casey S., age 50 (USA)
Positive—I remember as a boy I loved the cartoon THE JUNGLE BOOK. But over the years, I forgot about it. Watching the 2016 movie of it brought back the love for this old story. I will put this in classic list, as the IMAGES IN 3rd are like no other (WATCH IT IN 3D). The story, too, could actually remind us spiritually to watch out for the devil seeking like a lion to devour you or the snakes in the world trying to seduce you into sins that will destroy you. I know also that being part of a pack of believers is better than being out there alone. I may be over spiritualizing this movie, but, hey, I LOVED it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Rockinron Corino, age 53 (USA)
Positive—This movie was excellent. I agree with the other reviewers, it was not for very young children. That being said, it was more “realistic” than the original. It also was very engaging, with no long stretches of time while it set up the story. In all fairness, they had an advantage as this was a remake.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tom, age 56 (USA)
Positive—Allow me to add to the chorus of positives for this movie. What a treat. The visuals are stunning, the action engrossing, the characters captivating. [WARNING: POTENTIAL SLIGHT PLOT SPOILER] My only quibble is the ending; I wish it had mirrored the cartoon, but that’s just sentimentality [END SPOILER].

I don’t remember the books well enough to say for sure, but I suspect the movie follows them at least as well as the cartoon. Other than the fact that it doesn’t overtly display a Christian worldview (which the books did not either), there is simply nothing objectionable about it. If your child can handle heart-pounding action “peril” take them to see it. SEE IT IN 3D! It’s worth it. And don’t skip the ending title sequence!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jeremy Klein, age 60 (USA)
Positive—This is one of my all-time favorite stories, so I went into this movie thinking it couldn’t possibly top the previous versions I’ve seen, but WOW?! This movie was AMAZING!!! I saw it with my 7 year old son… and he loved it, too. I reminded him ahead of time about the basic plot involving the boy and the tiger (he saw the Disney cartoon several years ago), so he wasn’t completely unprepared for the “gotcha” scenes. I can’t speak highly enough of this version of the story! I really can't!

If you have young, sensitive children, be warned that there are several jump-out-of-your-seat scenes (a grown woman in front of me actually screamed and spilled her popcorn at one point—which my son found hilarious), but it’s pretty obvious where those scenes will be if you’ve ever read the book or seen other versions of the movie, and the background music is a dead give-away as well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chrystal, age 39 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—The movie was scary and far from the lighthearted feel of the cartoon. Young children may be extremely frightened by the near-death peril that makes up 90% of the movie. The snake scene was chilling. Kaa was horrifying. Mowgli is constantly running for his life, and the chases could scare small children or give them nightmares. I did enjoy the scene with Baloo singing “Bear Necessities” and the part where Mowgli saves the baby elephant. I also liked the ending. Overall, I would say that this movie may not be for young children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Chris, age 41 (USA)
Neutral— The bottom line is the good parts were great, and the dark parts were, at times, too much. It was very intense and violent and can scare small children. My daughter (and myself) were scared by the huge chasing King Kong-sized Orangutan Louie. I do have to clarify a point another reviewer made regarding the elephants that, although they speak of the elephants and their hand in creating the jungle, it was more about them creating it through their size and might, not in the sense of God. The panther (Bagheera) points out to Mowgli that they did not create him.

The snake scene with Kaa was also very dark, and unnecessary. They could have done the scene much better suited for children. The positive points were showing loyalty and courage, and Bill Murray’s Baloo I absolutely loved. That was the best part of the whole movie. If you plan on seeing, this I would recommend reservations depending on the age and the audience.
My Ratings: Moral rating: none / Moviemaking quality: 5
—L. Calvaruso, age over 30 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I can’t believe this movie is PG, it was VERY intense and scary with intense scenes of a tiger constantly trying to kill the jungle boy. I was really surprised how intense and scary this was, for being a children’s movie, and it’s sad, because people will probably let their kids go see this movie without them, because it is PG and “The Jungle Book.” There was a scene with the snake talking to the boy, it felt so demonic, I didn’t even want to watch that part. And they showed scenes of them bowing to the elephants, saying they were the creators of the jungle, the trees and pretty much everything… are you kidding me?! They would bow to them when they saw them. To even put that thought in kids’ minds is complete evil.

The animals all talked with the kid, so that was bizarre. They did make them really real looking which was impressive. But from the evil looking tiger with a blind eye wanting to kill the boy, the tiger killed the head wolf then was taunting the rest of the animals constantly, then when there was a 15 minute scene with this HUGE scary looking orangutan that was acting like the mafia, and, when they started chasing them, it was trying to kill them all, as well as hundreds of monkeys that were trying to kill the boy, panther and bear.

The graphics were okay, nothing spectacular. It was a very dark movie so I would have preferred never seeing it. Another Disney film filled with evil characters, death, murder, violence and demonic influence. Not shocking! So sad they are doing this to films that are supposed to be for children.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Stephanie, age 41 (USA)
Negative—I used to read Steinbeck. He said he liked to write in three layers of meaning (see The Pearl, The Red Pony, etc.). Disney can afford Steinbeck quality writers. Does it seem to anyone else that the Gigantopithecus song, “I want to be like you” sung to a jazz tune by a huge, dark ape.… might be mocking colored people? Want a third possible meaning? How about a mock of Bernie Sanders and other Progressives who want to massively increase inheritance taxes? The progressive masses seem to think that all they need to be “just like the very rich” is to get their money. As the big ape chases after his illusory goal.… he brings down the great edifice that those before him created.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joseph Mitchener, age 70 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I haven’t seen this movie, but I have seen movie clips. Now the scene with “Kaa” the snake is obviously similar to Satan in the garden of Eden, Satan seduced Eve with his lies and now the snake in this movie tries to seduce the little boy with her words, even the actress who voices the snake in the movie says that the snake is seductive. …
—Nadine, age 32 (United Kingdom)
Response—Thank you for taking the time to comment. As Christians, it’s easy to automatically see stories through the lens of our particular worldview and find symbolism there. While I did certainly note that Kaa was “smooth and scarily hypnotic” (i.e., “seductive”) and mentioned that her scenes were scary, I purposefully did not include the idea of the Eden snake because I felt that it would’ve felt contrived to do so. My main objective was to warn parents of possible viewing issues they might have with the movie, not include every Christian symbol that might be read into the story.

According to most scholars, The Jungle Book was never meant to be a Christian allegory, but was actually written as an allegory to defend Kipling’s beliefs on British Imperialism and to illustrate his experiences in Colonial India, with the characters concretely tied to certain individuals. Kipling stated in his autobiography Something of Myself that his main inspiration and intent for the tale was simply to communicate his love of India, its jungles, and its lore—not to make a religious statement.

If we say that Kaa is the Eden snake, we could just as easily say that Mowgli symbolizes us on our Christian journey, constantly getting into what isn’t good for us, aided along by Bagherra (Jesus) who tries to keep us out of trouble or keep us from being devoured by Shere Khan (Satan) or tempted by Baloo (laziness) and King Louie (hubris), but I believe that would be taking it too far. Jesus isn’t our nagging, mostly-unsuccessful babysitter, Satan isn’t easily scared away by a torch, and temptation isn’t our loveable friend in the end. That might make for an interesting research paper, but I felt it would be artificial in a movie content review.

Yet, dig deep enough and every single story ever written could tug at Christian allegorical symbols since, after all, all stories stem from God’s Big Story.
Jessica D. Lovett, Contributor
Negative—This movie promotes the view that earth would be better of without man, that animals are moral and man is evil. The boy is only allowed in the pack as long as he acts like a wolf and does not act like a man. Human creativity (“tricks”) is discouraged as weird, and man’s use of fire (the “red flower”) is demonized as a threat. As another viewer said, elephants are said to be the creators of everything,, and Mowgli is told to bow to them to show respect. This is shown several times in the course of the story.

All of this considered, this movie is a perversion of the original and has none of the fun and joy of the Disney animated movie. I regret that I spent two hours watching it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Edith, age 55 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was great! I was expecting a duplicate of “Cinderella” from 2015 (well, really a duplicate of the original “Jungle Book,” but done in the same way as “Cinderella”). But it was much more than that. I think it’s because they changed some parts of the story and added more to it, unlike “Cinderella” which pretty much copied the original. The only thing I found objectionable was one scene where elephants were walking by, and Bagheera tells Mowgli that they created the jungle. However, the scene is very brief, and they don’t flat out worship them. Bagheera bows and says “show some respect” but that’s it, there’s not any real worshipping going on.

Also, the movie could be VERY intense for younger children watching the movie. Shere Khan is probably the scariest character. Kaa is also very creepy, and the most surprising is King Louie who was quite threatening compared to the cartoon version. Also, a “good guy” dies (I won’t say who for spoiler purposes) I rated 4½ because of a long scene near the end, it was very dark and hard to see, which bothered me because I felt I was missing something. The animation is FANTASTIC otherwise. All of the animals are so realistic, especially the wolves. I’d reccomend it, just not for easily scared children (skip the elephant part, too),
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Katie, age 13 (USA)
Movie Critics

…worthwhile …an instant family classic …lots of exciting action, wonderful special effecs, a superb script, excellent performances…
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

…a rollicking, breathtaking update… [4/5]
—Adam R. Holz, Plugged In

…the movie is 81 percent life-and-death peril and 19 percent comic relief… Two songs from the '67 animated film sneak their way in, enlivening the bland grandeur of composer John Debney's score. …Director Jon Favreau's voice cast for the animals is tiptop… [3/4]
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

…moments of undeniable splendor, but it hasn’t uncovered enough new material in the stories to really justify the effort. …will undoubtedly entertain kids who find the previous movie too old-fashioned, but I suspect that in 50 years, it’s going to look just as dated. …
—Kristian Lin, Fort Worth Weekly

Sorry, no other viewer comments received yet. If you have seen this movie, PLEASE share your observations and insights with others to be posted here. GO