Movie review: 'The Jungle Book'

"The Jungle Book" is being called "stunning" and it's certified "fresh" by website Rotten Tomatoes.

When the director of "Iron Man" recruited a boy from Manhattan as the film's star, the result was one of the best family films in a long time.

What began life as a book for children in the 19th century became a beloved cartoon a couple of generations later. And now "The Jungle Book" has been updated for the 21st century, and the tale of the boy raised by wolves is even more enchanting thanks to technology that allows us to imagine animals can really talk.

Lupita Nyong'o lends her voice to the boy's mother, and Bill Murray is perfect as Baloo the bear. So are Scarlett Johansson as a seductive serpent and Idris Elba as the villainous tiger, Shere Khan.

Mowgli's protector played by Ben Kingsley thinks the little guy belongs with his own kind -- and so begins a series of adventures both scary and amusing.

King Louie is played by Christopher Walken, and while some have complained that the actor plays it too broad, he made me laugh so hard, I just can't agree.

But none of this would work without the perfect kid who was discovered here in New York City. Neel Sethi's achievement is all the more remarkable because he had no real acting experience, yet he had to perform opposite puppets and props, with the special effects added later.

Much of the credit should go to director Jon Favreau for drawing him out and for creating such a lush jungle world.

What would the jungle book be without the "Bear Neccessities?" The new version is less musical than the 1967 movie but no less magical. A chorus of critics have praised what's destined to become an instant classic and I am just as enthusiastic.

"The Jungle Book" is from Disney which also owns ABC7NY.

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