Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Film Review: Disney’s The Jungle Book

Left in the jungle as a baby, raised by wolves, befriended by a panther and a bear, Mowgli’s life is now threatened by the return of Shere Khan, the tiger, and king of the jungle. Don’t worry; this movie has very little violence for it is a classic story based on Rudyard Kipling’s story about a boy who is raised by wolves. Rating: 8/10.

Mowgli's animal family refers to him as the “man cub” and he is happy living in the jungles of India, but once the tiger Shere Khan finds out he is there, he will no longer be safe. Bagheera, the wise old panther, decides to take Mowgli to the nearest man village, even though the boy doesn’t want to leave. Throughout their journey, they encounter Kaa, a hypnotic snake, and an army of elephants, and Baloo the bear, who is widely popular for his “Bare Necessities” song. Mowgli is tempted by Baloo’s lovable, laid-back way of life, but when Mowgli decides he likes being a bear and the two ditch Bagheera, the pair run into trouble.

Some crazy orangutans kidnap Mowgli and take him to their king, Louis Prima, who then tempts him with an offer he can’t refuse. Shere Khan finds out there is a “man cub” in his jungle and is hot on his trail. Somehow, Baloo and Bagheera find a way to team up to protect the boy.

Once the unlikely duo rescue Mowgli from the orangutans, Baloo angers him by mentioning they must take him to a man village and he runs off. He eventually encounters the barbershop singer group made up of vultures and they cheer him up. Danger strikes when Shere Khan appears and attempts to capture Mowgli. Baloo comes to his rescue by distracting the tiger so he can get away, but the tiger attacks Baloo and knocks him unconscious. Bagheera then ties a branch engulfed with fire to the tigers tail and he runs off.

Once Shere Khan is defeated in the film and Baloo recovers, the trio treks on and only by chance does Mowgli leave the jungle. At the bittersweet ending, Mowgli is lured by his human instincts when he sees a girl for the first time and follows her into the village.

The Jungle Book is filled with songs you can’t help but sing along to and with jungle animals you can’t help but fall in love with, even Shere Khan’s voice is charming. Enjoyed by children and adults alike, this charming film is Disney’s 17th animated feature and the last film Walt supervised before his death.

I enjoy this movie every time I watch it, especially now because it reminds me how much I loved it when I was a kid. Every character is appealing to viewers in some way because they are all so diverse and in it’s own way, the film does teach children even though it wasn’t necessarily created for educational purposes. Children can learn that even if someone may look or act differently from them, they can still get along. By the end of the movie, Bagheera manages to loosen up enough to give in to Baloo’s care-free way of life. They can also learn about teamwork through Baloo and Bagheera and that it’s not okay to kill someone even if you don’t like them.

I would certainly recommend this film to children, parents and even teachers. Teachers may find the new edition very useful for educational purposes because it is interactive. Parents and children may also find the interactive aspect a plus because kids can then interact with their favorite characters through games. The 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition just came out this fall, with many special features such as music videos, deleted scenes and songs, long lost characters, backstage features, games, and more.

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