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Friday 30 August 2019 7.45pm
Talkies Outdoor Cinema: The Jungle Book
After a threat from the tiger Shere Khan forces him to flee the jungle, a man-cub named Mowgli embarks on a journey of self discovery with the help of panther Bagheera and free-spirited bear Baloo.
Film critic Peter Bradshaw (Guardian) writes:
“….a terrifically enjoyable piece of old-fashioned storytelling and a beautiful-looking film: spectacular, exciting, funny and fun. It handsomely revives the spirit of Disney’s original film, while also having something of old-school family movies …
Perhaps most strikingly of all, it re-imports into the story elements of the Disney classic The Lion King (1994) which The Jungle Book influenced in the first place: there’s a special rock for the animals to gather round, a stampede scene and an evil feline with a facial disfigurement.
Newcomer Neel Sethi plays Mowgli himself; Ben Kingsley voices Bagheera the panther; Idris Elba is the evil tiger Shere Khan; Scarlett Johansson is the hissing snake mesmerist Kaa; Christopher Walken is the voice of King Louie the fire-hungry ape and inevitably – but pleasingly, and very amusingly – Bill Murray is an outstanding vocal turn as the notorious ursine slacker and pleasure-seeker Baloo the bear who teaches Mowgli the importance of kicking back and enjoying the bare necessities of life.
I’ve never seen digital rendering of talking animals look so persuasive and this film also creates witty and ingenious twists on the story we all know, including a new plot development concerning wolf-leader Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Shere Khan – and even creates a backstory for Mowgli which explains how he got that modesty-preserving loincloth of his.
It’s not a musical and yet the deployment of two famous songs – The Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You – feels easy and natural. Actually, the film emphatically revives Kipling’s poem The Law of the Jungle with its collective all-for-one ethic: “The strength of the pack is the wolf/And the strength of the wolf is the pack.” Baloo prefers songs to poems and calls that one “propaganda”.
Interestingly, where the first film finally sticks to a never-the-twain-shall-meet attitude to humans’ long-term cohabitation with animals, this one posits the idea of living together happily (though that size of loincloth can’t last for ever). As I said, this sacrifices the original’s bittersweet acknowledgment that Mowgli must one day grow up and look for romance.”
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