Thank you to Disney for sponsoring my attendance at the #JungleBookEvent!
I’m not going to lie, I went into The Jungle Book a little nervous about a few things.
- That I was going to scream or faint when Kaa came on screen
- That the movie was going to let me down because the original The Jungle Book is my favorite childhood movie.
- That I just flat out wouldn’t enjoy it because it had real animals in it and I’m generally not a real-live-animal-movie kinda gal.
None of those things happened.
During my red carpet world premiere trip to Los Angeles, California last week, I got to see The Jungle Book in Dolby Cinemas at AMC Prime with Dolby Atmos technology and the most comfortable, vibrating seats I’ve ever parked rear on. If you go to one of these theaters, make sure you don’t get TOO comfortable. You don’t want to be the guy snoring in the movie theater.
We saw The Jungle Book twice during our trip, the second time in 3D, and both ways were breathtaking. I feel like the Dolby Cinemas technology made the movie intensely crisp. You could see every hair, every breath of wind, every little nuance. The 3D version had some fun extras such as mud slinging up on your point of view during the scene where Mowgli hitches a ride on the back of a buffalo.
I kept marveling at how there could be no possible way that The Jungle Book wasn’t filmed on location, but rather in downtown LA. Jon Favreau told us in our interview with him that he wanted to take the original version of the movie and make the new version true to scale – to play with a realistic scale. Bagheera is very large, King Louie is enormous, and Kaa is the same size scale-wise as the Kaa in the original version. The setting and characters are huge, and yet none of it seems or feels unreal.
The storyline is much like the original, and yet not at all like the original, but the whole thing feels completely cohesive. Mowgli and Bagheera have the same sort of respectful relationship they did in the original, but Bagheera seems to have more care and love for Mowgli than he did in the original.
Akela and Raksha have much larger parts in this film and the love of a mother really shines through with Lupita Nyong’o’s rendition of Mowgli’s wolf mother.
Kaa’s part was seductive and I could almost watch it. Full disclosure: I watched it through my clear plastic cup the first time we saw it and I didn’t die, scream, or make a fool of myself. Kaa tells Mowgli a seductive story about his origins that helps you dive further into your real-human connection with this boy raised by wolves in the Jungle.
Baloo’s part in the film is less energetic than the original Baloo, but maintains the same goofy vibe. This Baloo is really a swindler, and though he begins his storyline by using Mowgli for his own personal gain, quickly develops an attachment for the young boy.
Neel Sethi is a perfect Mowgli. His long, lanky legs and general movements are identical to the Mowgli I grew up loving. Beyond his perfect looks for the role, Neel somehow manages to make you love and care for him deeply. One part in particular where he’s sitting in the rain with his wolf brother, Grey, moved me so intensely that I can still feel it in my chest when I think about it.
I was so blown away with this genius and breathtaking film that I honestly haven’t stopped telling everyone I know about how great it is. None of the animals are actually real, but they certainly look that way, even – and maybe especially – Shere Kahn. My littles love to have their heart rates raised and feel the visceral reaction that comes with the unexpected, so I’ll be taking my 5 and 6 year old to see the movie, along with my 14 year old who, I’m sure, is going to be completely blown away by the technology used in the production of this film.
Don’t believe me? Check out this trailer and make plans to go see this movie in the theater TODAY, April 15.
Keep your eyes peeled for Mr. Pangolin who makes an appearance in the film – I’m not telling you when or where, just keep your eyes peeled for this animal below:
Pangolins are a critically endangered species and the most illegally traded mammal in the world. THE WORLD. We had the esteemed pleasure of speaking with Jeffrey Flocken who is the North American Regional Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare during our press junket and he was able to effectively give all 25 of us big hearts for this unique animal. They are hunted for scales which are used in traditional Asian medicine and for clothing and accessories, and for their meat which is considered a delicacy. The International Fund for Animal welfare (IFAW) and a coalition of NGOs has petitioned the U.S. Government to list all eight pangolin species as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Why can’t they just grab some up and put them in a zoo rehabilitation program?” Well, because pangolins have never been successfully bred in captivity. They do not thrive well anywhere but their natural habitat, no matter how elaborate the captive habitat is. They are solitary, nocturnal, shy animals and stay largely out human way. They are slow growing and only produce one young at a time, so they aren’t quick to procreate.
Director, Jon Favreau loves Pangolins and apparently they have quite the following. How can you help? Easy. Visit IFAW.org and sign the petition to get more protection for pangolins, then start spreading the word on social media. Nobody can resist this face, right?