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Those familiar with the story of the human raised by wolves will largely be familiar with the plot, but with a stronger focus on those wolves, the threat of Shere Khan, and action, not everything will feel just the same.
Like many of Disney’s past live-action adaptations, what you are essentially given is a cash grab. One which feeds into the nostalgia of parents and those who grew up with the original animated version, and tries to reel in those kids who may have never seen the Disney classic. All the while, really the only positive change which comes with the remake is all the fancy visuals unavailable to Disney in the past.
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
Mowgli (Neelo Sethi), as in the original, is a young boy who has been raised in the wilderness by wolves. However, as he comes of age so returns Shere Khan (Idris Elba) who, thanks to a previous fight with a human burning half of his face, needless to say, he isn’t for this human integrating into society. So, for a little while, he holds off on doing anything. But as the season begins to change Shere Khan seeks the boy’s blood and has no issue fighting the whole animal kingdom, if he has to, to make sure that boy doesn’t live long enough to become a man.
It is visually beautiful: As with almost all of the Disney remakes, their live action adaptions are visibly beautiful and while I refuse to see them in IMAX or 3D, mostly because MoviePass doesn’t cover that on their basic plan, the amount of detail will leave you in awe. Especially in terms of the way the animals move.
It Can Be Comical: While won’t be laughing loudly or uncontrollably, there are moments, especially after Baloo (Bill Murray) is introduced, where you will find yourself chuckling from time to time.
The Changes Made Seem More Geared Toward Creating More Action Than A Compelling Story: Let me say that it has been years since I’ve seen the animated The Jungle Book and based off that, it probably isn’t my favorite Disney film. With that said, though, I remember enough of it to know there were a lot of changes done so that someone could justify the live-action version. No, not in the sense of being truer to the source material, but more so adapting the old version to fit the assumed short attention span of the modern generation. Leading to more fight scenes, which admittedly are kind of cool, Mowgli running around through the jungle more, making tools, hanging with the wolves longer than in the original film, and overall you are left feeling that like so many other remakes, this one was more about a cash grab than anything else.
On The Fence
Two Classic Songs Are There: Both “Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You” are in the film, and sung by their respective actor, but unfortunately they are remixed to the modified storyline. Making it so while the nostalgia may rush in when they begin singing, almost as soon as your realize the song has been modified it slips away.
Sethi’s Acting: Let’s note, first off, this is Sethi’s first real acting role. So with that, him acting with CGI, and him being a child, there is the need to cut him some slack. However, if you take away the slack given because he is a child, and simply judge him as any other actor, there are times when you are left wondering whether this was the best Disney could do? Granted, I wouldn’t want the character whitewashed and you have to remind yourself that neither Disney, nor many other children-focused conglomerates, really focus on making young Indian stars, but surely there could have been a seasoned child from Bollywood ripe for crossing the Pacific.