Disney’s live-action The Jungle Book is opening this weekend, and I think it looks gorgeous. I don’t particularly approve of the cast; I’d rather have silent animals or people who don’t sound distractingly like Christopher Walken and Bill Murray (since they are Christopher Walken and Bill Murray). But I’m really excited for the movie nevertheless, because I love the story and all of its previous movie incarnations. The 1942 film, the 1968 Disney animated feature, and the 1994 live-action version (which I saw around seven times at the dollar theater in my hometown) each hit me in just the right spot. I like animals, I like 19th century period pieces, I like adventures, I like the romantic aura of Kipling texts… I fully expect to like this new movie!
The last time I was this excited about a new release was four years ago, in 2012, when the first Hobbit movie came out. The Hobbit is the book I’ve read most often — more times than I saw the 1994 Jungle Book, even. I love Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films and have visited filming locations in New Zealand. But, like a lot of fans and virtually all the critics, I despise The Hobbit movies. The risk of having a lot of excitement is experiencing a corresponding amount of disappointment, but I’ll head heedlessly into The Jungle Book with high hopes anyway!