As I said upon leaving the World Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre, Disney's THE JUNGLE BOOK is an unexpectedly astonishing and beautiful film, not only in terms of visuals, but in terms of content and weight. To say it must be seen on the big screen and in 3D is an undeniable truth, a testament to the technological marvel created under the direction of filmmaker Jon Favreau (ELF, IRON MAN) - a modern digital film that pushes the boundaries of what can be done with photo-realistic CG to new heights, but also retains the feel of an organic, handmade film. Despite my unabashed appreciation for much of Favreau's back catalog, when the film was first announced a few years back, I must admit that I was apprehensive as to how, exactly, it would play out. As a fan of the 1967 original (reviewed here), and as a moviegoer that's sometimes burnt by the overuse of CG, how could it be done? Fortunately, many of these same issues had been considered and addressed early-on in the process, and the end result is wonderful. Could THE JUNGLE BOOK be every bit as good, if not better than the classic that inspired it? I say yes.
With our girls turning 3 and 6 this summer, it's easy for my wife and I to see the difference in skill level between "The Rock Daughters," and to consider the difference in development when comparing how our oldest was when she was the same age as our youngest. In a few spots, Addie was undoubtedly presented with vehicles that were ahead of her age and skill level - something that's easier to see now. She received a 12" bike for her second or third birthday, then a 20" for her fifth birthday, and now here she is about to turn six and there's still training wheels on both. Little Finn on the other hand is working both a Radio Flyer Tricycle and the 12" Huffy Cinderella bike that she's inherited from big sister, but the game just changed. When the folks at STRIDER approached me about having the girls try one of their famed "balance bikes" (no pedals, no training wheels), with the idea that both of my girls could soon learn balance to graduate from the trikes and training wheels, I was skeptical at best. Does the STRIDER Bike really teach balance?