By Sid Sharma
The Cynical Desi
My favorite Jungle Book will always be the Japanese anime series they dubbed into Hindi during the early 90s. That was a well executed venture into Kipling’s world. I have to say that Jon Favreau’s new version which debuts this Friday in U.S. theaters, is every bit as good as the old anime.
The story is fairly simple. A baby is found in the wild by the black panther Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley). Taking pity, the panther delivers the child to a family of wolves who call the boy Mowgli (portrayed in live action by Neel Sethi) and raise him as one of their own. Of course, the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) has a murderous hatred for the boy and the conflict between the two forms the foundation for the movie.
I particularly enjoyed the pacing of the movie. Of course many of the story beats come from Disney’s prior animated version. (That version forms the template of this movie.) As a consequence, the middle of the movie does what it should and keeps you invested through the end. Bill Murray’s Baloo the bear was a treat in these acts.
In a cast full of celebrity talent, Neel Sethi, the young actor who plays Mowgli, is worth singling out for praise. He’s not going to win any awards, but he plays Mowgli with earnestness and simplicity. The thing is that this character calls exactly for this plainness and Sethi’s portrayal fits the character superbly.
You should really see this movie.
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