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The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

Starring: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyongo, Christopher Walken, Idris Elba, Neel Sethi (Rated PG – 105 min).

Some may feel ambivalent towards the latest Rudyard Kipling novel screen incarnation but it is absolutely positively absolutely the cream of the crop in every filmmaking aspect of immense entertainment.

Since the original film adaptation in 1942, there have been various versions with the treasured Disney animation classic of 1967 and the underrated live action version of 1994 featuring Sam Neill and John Cleese being the standouts.

From the opening credits, director Jon Favreau (also an established actor) has curated a triumph of extraordinary detail so precise, viewers would think they were running through the Indian landscapes alongside man-cub Mowgli.

Only knowing life among the animals, in particular a family of wolves who brought up the abandoned human baby as their own, Mowgli grows up and unwittingly creates tension with prowling tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba).

He leaves his home in dramatic circumstances on the run through the jungle away from Shere Khan intent on devouring him. Guided by black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), the pair get separated and Mowgli takes off into the unpredictable jungle alone. It is during this eye-opening stanza we come across an array of good, bad and somewhere in between, key animals alongside Mowgli with mostly good intentions until meeting King Louie (Christopher Walken).

Staggeringly lifelike, vegetation, rocks, water, insects, everything in the entire animal kingdom, is animated except for debutant Neel Sethi (12 years old at the time of filming) handpicked from literally thousands of children auditioning for Mowgli.

Not a musical, although well loved songs such as Bare Necessities are referenced, especially during the wonderful scenes concerning Baloo the constantly napping, honey loving bear voiced to perfection by Bill Murray. The husky echoing voice of Scarlett Johansson as python Kaa is unique while the late Garry Shandling pops up in comedy relief as a rodent of sorts.

Brilliant film, audiences will be enamoured. Be warned, some images may be too scary for young children.

Shane A. Bassett

Sydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.