ON SCREEN: Neel Sethi in a scene from the movie The Jungle Book.
ON SCREEN: Neel Sethi in a scene from the movie The Jungle Book. Disney

The Jungle Book: Human child outshines CGI stars

The Jungle Book

  • Stars: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley
  • Director: Jon Favreau
  • Reviewer: Javier Encalada
  • Verdict: 4.5/5

AN ORPHAN boy is raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear, and a black panther ... most adults would be familiar with the story, the classic 1960s animated film or the book.

If you were ever part of the Scouts movement, you will be familiar with the story too.

The Jungle Book was a collection of stories first published in magazines in 1893-94.

Kipling was born in India and spent the first six years of his childhood there.

After about 10 years in England, he went back to India and worked there for about six-and-a-half years.

The 1967 animated film belongs in the list of Disney classics with Peter Pan and Cinderella, although the very first film version was released in 1942.

Is this 2016 version going to be a classic?

I think it will. Thanks to its fantastic cast.

Neel Sethi (Mowgli) is divine, refreshing, lovely and completely outshines the CGI wonderland around him in this film.

The 13-year-old Indian-American from New York is everything we expected from Mowgli and more. He offered extra layers that would please Kipling himself.

Next is the animals voiced by a line up of Hollywood superstars.

What is it that makes Bill Murray shine like a supernova in every film he is in? Murray voices Baloo the Bear and it's fascinating. Young Sethi and old Murray singing The Bare Necessities sounded exactly what my 8-year-old self wanted it to be like all those years ago.

There is Ben Kingsley as Bagheera the Black Panther, Idris Elba as Shere Khan the tiger, Lupita Nyong'o as Raksha the wolf, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela the wolf and Christopher Walken as King Louie the monkey. Scarlett Johansson as the snake, Kaa, deserves a special mention, offering a fantastic take on the character.

This is a wonderful modern take of a family classic.

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