I received an all expense paid trip from Disney to attend the #JungleBookEvent. The opinions expressed here are my own and I received no monetary compensation.
“Many strange tales are told of this Jungle. But none so strange as the tale of the cub we called Mowgli.” -Bagheera
Disney’s new live action film The Jungle Book opens in theaters on April 15th and I can’t wait for you to see it! I had the opportunity to screen it in a fancy Dolby Cinema and again at the premier in the iconic El Capitan Theater. We actually got to see the movie before some of the voice actors, which blew my mind! I was honored and I can’t tell you how cool it was to be in the same room with them as they watched it for the first time. The energy in the room was palpable. Keep on scrolling for my review of the movie (don’t worry, no spoilers) and if I think it’s appropriate for children.
ABOUT THE JUNGLE BOOK
Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire. The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world. The wild adventure swings into theaters in 3D on April 15, 2016.
THE JUNGLE BOOK FUN FACTS
- SLAM DUNK – At full stretch, Baloo can reach nearly 15 feet high. The free-spirited bear is so heavy and sports so much fur, he took nearly five hours per frame to render.
- WHAT’S IN A NAME – Mother wolf Raksha is aptly named. In Hindi, Raksha means protector.
SO BIG – Artists at WETA took some creative license when it came to King Louie, borrowing a legendary character—Gigantopithecus—and exaggerating his size. King Louie stands 12 feet tall.
- LOINCLOTH LOGIC – Mowgli sports a red loincloth in the film, but costume designer Laura Jean Shannon had her work cut out for her. “Mowgli’s immersed in water and mud, he gets rained on, he runs,” says Shannon. “We even rigged a hidden safety harness into the costume because Mowgli hangs on tree limbs and cliffs. Each of the loincloths—we ended up with 16 or 17—had a very specific purpose.” Shannon built a “suit of armor” from the leaves of an alocasia tree (known as elephant ear plant). The garment showcased how the intelligent man-cub would protect himself from angry bees before collecting honey for Baloo.
- DETAILS, DETAILS – The team at Moving Picture Company (MPC) were responsible for animating more than 70 species, crafting 100 million leaves and simulating earth, fire and water. A team of more than 800 computer graphics artists spent more than a year on the project.
- BUILDING A JUNGLE – Artists digitally built most of the jungle environment that appears in the film, creating moss, bark, rock, water, grass, trees, leaves that were all inspired by their real-life counterparts in India. The virtual environment makes up 80 percent of the film frame 100 percent of the time.
- PLACES, PLEASE – Filmmakers utilized motion capture technology to help them visualize the entire film prior to live-action production kicking off. The process involves special body suits adorned with dots that translate into the computer. Even director Jon Favreau suited up for select scenes.
- ME AND MY SHADOW – One of the challenges filmmakers faced by pairing a liveaction Mowgli with computer-generated animal counterparts was that the CG creatures were unable to cast shadows on real-life Mowgli. Visual effects supervisor Rob Legato developed a system that allowed filmmakers to project light and shadows onto Mowgli that represent the creatures that are moving near him.
- HONEY, HONEY – Mowgli deals with a lot of honey in “The Jungle Book.” The sweet stuff proved challenging for filmmakers, who wanted it to look authentic—yet still appealing. Color and viscosity had to be considered, as well as how to make the honeycomb it comes in.
- INSPIRED BY WALT – Disney’s 1967 animated film, “The Jungle Book,” was the last film that Walt Disney oversaw. He passed away in 1966, the year before the film’s release. Director Jon Favreau was inspired by more than the 1967 movie. “When I think about Disney’s legacy, I relate to Walt’s original dream,” he says. “Walt Disney’s work has influenced my work. He was considered high tech for the time. He was the first person who locked soundtrack with picture, so the characters were perfectly choreographed to the musical score—something that absolutely blew people’s minds. Disney was on the cutting edge of technology.”
- OSCAR NOM – The iconic song “The Bare Necessities,” written by Terry Gilkyson, was nominated for an Academy Award® in 1968.
- STUDIO BRATS — Composer John Debney, who wrote the score for the new, liveaction film “The Jungle Book,” is the son of Louis Debney, who worked for Walt Disney. “When I was a youngster, they were making this incredible magical film called ‘The Jungle Book,’ and I was sort of a studio brat,” says Debney. “I got to know the young man Bruce Reitherman who played Mowgli. We would go on adventures around the world with his family.”
- SCOUTS’ HONOR — According to actor Ben Kinglsey, author Rudyard Kipling’s characters are part of being young in the U.K. “Before a boy in the U.K. joins the Boy Scouts, he joins the Cubs,” says Kingsley. “And our Cub Chief was always called Akela. In fact, all the Scouts’ names come from Kipling’s writings.”
THE JUNGLE BOOK REVIEW
As someone who grew up with Disney movies, like The Jungle Book, I always get nervous when they start talking about a remake. There’s nothing to be nervous about with this live action version, that pays appropriate homage to it’s predecessor. In fact, I think it’s even better than the original! I always felt like Bagheera lacked empathy in the original film, which definitely wasn’t the case in the new movie. The ending is also much better in my opinion, but you’ll have to tell me what you think! Yes, the Bare Necessities song (and a couple other songs that you’ll recognize) made it into the movie. Oh and the cast is perfection, especially Neel Sethi (who plays Mowlgi)!
As a former social worker, who worked in the adoption field, I was moved by the scenes involving Raksha. Raksha is the wolf that raises and deeply loves Mowgli as her own, despite him being a different species. As Kipling writes and Raksha says in the movie, “You are mine. Mine to me. No matter where you go or what they may call you. You will always be my Mowgli”. Cue the tears as I thought of the many adoptive families that touched my life, who jumped through hoops and had their lives turned upside down to simply love another human being. To give a child a very bare necessity – a family.
Another very powerful theme in the movie was acceptance and belonging. Mowgli doesn’t quite know where he fits in at the start of the movie. He’s chastised when he uses his “man tricks”, but can’t quite keep up with the wolf pack. I love when Mowgli meets Baloo, a free spirited bear, who encourages him to just be himself. We all need a Baloo in our life. I think this could be a great conversation starter for pre-teens and teens, who are in those difficult years of just wanting to feel like they belong.
Is this movie appropriate for young children? I’d say it’s perfect for ages 7-8 and up! If you have a particularly sensitive child, you may want to screen the movie first. The animals look very real and there are a few parts in the movie that made me jump. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it!
SAVE THE PANGOLINS
Mr. Pangolin, an adorable mammal that looks like an artichoke, makes a cameo appearance in The Jungle Book. Pangolins are critically endangered species and the most illegally traded mammal in the world. They can be found throughout Asia and Africa. They are poached for their meat and scales. Visit the International Fund for Animal Welfare to learn more about Pangolins and how you can help protect this unique creature.
Make sure to follow The Jungle Book on Facebook, Twitter, IG, Pinterest and G+. You can also follow Walt Disney Pictures on Tumblr and YouTube. The Jungle Book opens in theaters everywhere in 3D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D on April 15th!
Don’t forget to print out these fun Jungle Book activity sheets: