Rated: PG Reviewed by: Chris Release date: December 25, 1994 Released by: Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Studios had such success with their animated feature of Rudyard Kipling's book, they decided to remake it as a live action film, with great results.
The story begins in the jungles of India in the early 1900s. Five-year-old Mogli and his father are on safari with a British officer (Sam Neill -Jurassic Park) and his young daughter, Kitty, when a vicious tiger attacks their camp and kills Mogli's father.
During the confusion, a horse-drawn cart carrying Mogli is scared off and crashes deep in the jungle, leaving the orphaned tot to be raised by wild animals.
Mogli grows up with a young wolf and bear cub for friends and through the magic of Hollywood, he becomes a man (played by Jason Scott Lee - Dragon) in the blink of an eye.
Kitty (Lena Headey) has also grown into a beautiful and headstrong woman. She crosses a bridge into the forbidden "Black Jungle" on a dare and comes face to face with her childhood friend, Mogli. At first she's frightened of him, but then she persuades a doctor friend of her father (played by affable John Cleese) to "civilize" Mogli, along with her help. This is done much to the dismay of her snobby boyfriend, Captain of the British Army (Cary Elwes - The Princess Bride).
Mogli quickly becomes fluent in English, manners and even learns to waltz. But, when he shows up at a fancy ball, the British society won't let him forget where he came from.
Lee has a very expressive face and he's quite good as Mogli. His character is so innocent and guileless, it makes Elwes' Captain all the more pompous and despicable. The Jungle Book is filled with terrific animals, playful monkeys and tamed bears, but it also has very ferocious tiger. Disney has a penchant for producing films where the main character loses a parent to violence: Bambi's mom to fire, Lion King's father in a stampede and little Mogli's father is mauled to death by a huge snarling tiger. Younger children will probably have trouble dealing with this.
There's also a great deal of intense action, including kidnapping, shooting and the unknown dangers of the jungle. The Jungle Book has everything - romance, beauty and excitement, but this one is geared to older children and adults; both will find it a great way to spend time during the holidays.
|The Jungle Book||B+||B+|