The Jungle Book: A Conversation Review

The Jungle Book came out this weekend, and staff member Malkontent Blizzard and his fiance Corvus headed out to go check it out. Here’s the conversation they had afterwards:

Malkontent Blizzard: Okay, from some of the feedback I got over my Batman v Superman review, I see it can appear that I hate movies…

Mal: Well, here I am with a movie I truly liked. It’s a violent exploration of realpolitik and a fun cat video with a demonstration of ancient tool use all rolled into one.

I give you…The Jungle Book!

Most of my friends have been hearing me worry that this was going to be as cute as the original, but I am here to tell you that it’s not. In fact this is the closest adaptation of the five Jungle Book adaptations I’ve seen. I like tigers.

Not only is it still intense and political but it’s no longer cheerily bright and by that I mean the lighting. The way it’s lit, combined with the light touch Disney uses with their 3D, and the way the characters move almost seamlessly between English and natural sounds gives it a feel very like The Revenant in that it almost seems like you just stumbled across the events.
-Spoilers mixed in the rest-
Let me start at the beginning. When we first get a good look at Mowgli we see that far from the unblemished youth of Disney ink and paint he has scars like you would expect from a youth trying to be a wolf cub. And that is just the start of the ride.
All your faves are back, but not quite how you remember them. Shere Khan pays lip service to the law in his naked vengeance quest burning both ends of the rhetorical candle as only Idris Elba can. Bagheera, far from being the comedy straight man, is a machiavellian confidant. And Baloo starts as a self interested huxter. All as Kipling taught us. Even the biggest insert character, Gray, is intriguing. He’s a brother to Mowgli, but doesn’t fall into the trap most insert characters do of affecting the major plot points or setting up useless jokes. Kaa isn’t Khan’s second fiddle anymore, but is now one of the truly scary fixtures ( stick around for the credits to see more of that). King Louie is…frightening. Christopher Walken puts on his thickest NY accent and turns “I want to be like you” into a naked power play…
Corvus: But there was thankfully far less singing.
Mal: Yeah, both the memorable songs from the original make partial returns. Each only gets about halfway through before the events of the movie make them stop.
I think the biggest departure from the book should also be addressed-
Corvus: You mean the Lupa taking over? That was awesome!
Mal: No, Corvus. I mean how long it all takes.
Corvus: But it was a short movie.
Mal: No, I mean the fact that in the book, by the time of the epic battle, Mowgli is nearly grown. But in this film it all takes about a month. I think that it was a much better decision than putting in brand new stuff to fill in the missing time.
All in all this is so close to perfect it can make one weep. I’d definitely go see it.


Malkontent Blizzard

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