The Jungle Book: Don’t Amp Yourself Up

I’m a picky movie-goer. I like getting to the theater 30 minutes early so I can pick the best spot. I like being near the center part of the row and towards the top. I like doing the trivia before the movie starts and get annoyed with myself if I don’t know the answers right away. I like for the volume to be extra loud and to be there in time to watch every trailer. Essentially, I’m kind of a pain to go to the movies with. And I know it, so I usually don’t make movie dates with friends. The one person who always puts up with my picky movie theater antics though is my awesome boyfriend. So on Friday morning (because I love the matinées), I dragged him along with me to see the live action version of The Jungle Book.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect. Before I read the reviews, I was excited, but cautious. Then when I read the reviews and saw that every single one was good, I was super excited. That right there was my mistake. I know it’s not a good thing to amp yourself up for a movie because no movie can ever be as great as your imagination. It’s good to go into a movie with expectations neutral in order to have your mind hopefully blown by the awesomeness on screen. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but look at all of the reviews. I knew it was going to be good, but all of the reviews pointed towards great. But, it wasn’t great.

Don’t get me wrong. The word good can be used here to describe the film, but not necessarily the word great. Let me explain.

The graphics are incredible. I essentially watched an animated movie without realizing it while I watched it. That’s how great the graphics were. If I were to walk into the jungle and see a talking bear or a talking wolf or a talking whatever, I would imagine that animal to look and act just like the ones from the movie did. The images were incredible and I’m only using the world incredible because I can’t think of a better word than that. Very much incredible? Does that work?

I love escaping into a movie and the world building aspect is an important one. That being said, I still found myself slightly bored at the beginning of the film. Once I got past looking at all the adorable animals and their homes, I needed more of a story. And eventually, I got it. It just took a bit of time to get to.

The Jungle Book does not travel along the typical movie hill. There is an equation that all (except, not all) movies, and other stories, use. The basic notion is that movies start with a beginning introduction, then a few predicaments occur, then a larger greater issue arises, then there is the climax, then the resolution. The Jungle Book is one of the films that doesn’t have that flow exactly. When I was watching it, I kept thinking there was too much information for it just to be a movie. It felt choppy, kind of like a television series. Like I was watching ten different mini episodes right in a row. There were a lot of unique, smaller stories within the larger one. For example, Mowgli’s time with Baloo could have been expanded, as well as Mowgli growing up with the wolf pack, in order for the film to have more of an emotional impact. If someone came up with a series based on The Jungle Book, I actually think it would be kind of great and possibly do the book a bit more justice.

Once the ball got rolling and we got to meet some of the more interesting characters such as Baloo and the elephants, I was hooked. I was rooting for Mowgli (aka, the man-cub, as he was known as in the film) and the live action wasn’t dependent on the animated film to hold itself up. Though, there were some moments of nostalgia weaved throughout the film. It was just the right amount too. Not too little, not too much. I’ll have King Louie’s “I Wanna Be Like You” stuck in my head for the next week though.

I would give The Jungle Book a B. I was hoping it was going to be an A, but it didn’t quite get there. That being said, it wasn’t too far below. It was done well and in the right way. My problem with it came down to the  flow, or the lack there of to be more specific. Everything else worked. The only thing I would change is the weekend I went. It wasn’t worth the opening weekend busy-ness, but it’s good enough to still see in theaters instead of waiting to see it in the comfort of your home.

Veronica Vivona was born and raised in Dallas, but now lives in the quainter area of Durham, North Carolina. Currently, she is working on a few different writing projects and is loving the post-grad life. She spends her days off by reading books and thinking about her future Academy Award acceptance speech. Twitter: @Veronica_Vivona