The Jungle Book
Disney at its very best
I watched the Disney animated version growing up and it always stuck with me — just like Tarzan — how amazing it was to create a story where a boy gets to be raised by the wolves and basically have a life like no other with all the dangers the forest life has to offer.
Fast forward to 2016 and we now have the live action version.
Disney has been on a sort of rampage and a high lately; releasing live action versions of their classic animations and not all of them have been very good and critics have even said they were unnecessary.
We’ve had Maleficent telling the story of Sleeping Beauty but focusing on the wicked witch that laid the curse on her. It wasn’t really good to be honest and I felt it was a waste of Angelina Jolie’s talent.
We’ve also had Cinderella directed by Kenneth Branagh which while better was simply a feel good movie about love and hope. It was beautifully shot but didn’t pull me in.
This one though, is everything all those movies wanted to be. The Jungle Book captures everything that makes Disney animations (yes I know it isn’t an animation but sometimes it feels like one and that isn’t a bad thing) so amazing.
This is classic Disney all the way. The special effects are top notch, the voice acting is amazing, it is thrilling and touching and funny and an absolute delight to watch. I can’t say enough about it.
Okay here goes
The Jungle Book is a live-action adventure/CGI movie directed by Jon Favreau (IronMan, IronMan 2, Chef, etc) about a boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi) who was found by Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) in the jungle when he was little and has been raised by a wolf pack but now faces danger from a Bengal tiger named Shere Khan (Idris Elba) who hates humans and will stop at nothing to see the man-cub dead.
Along the way he meets other interesting characters including the brown bear Baloo (Bill Murray), the enormous python Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and the King of the Bandar-logs; King Louie (Christopher Walken) who wants the Yellow Flower (Fire).
That’s it, that’s the long and short of the story yet it plays like an epic tale of sacrifice and strength and beauty and hope and everything in between.
Idris Elba is awesome as Shere Khan. Yes it’s just his voice but my word what a voice that man has!
It excudes power and strength and such menace that whenever his character animal appears onscreen, you can feel a chill. Like someone just poured cold water on you and you shiver wondering what he will do next.
Have I mentioned how awesome the special effects are? It’s beautiful!! The special effects are top notch.
Okay I’ll stop talking about that now. I once listened to a podcast that said the effects looked dated and that it wasn’t immersive. I don’t agree with that at all. There are times you’d see a shot that is obviously SFX especially if it’s a close up shot but 95% of the time, it draws you in and never lets up.
I recommend this movie for anyone who has ever loved Disney animations and wants to see a true representation in live action form. I recommend this for anyone who loves a good movie that is beautifully shot, attention to detail is adhered to and features a rousing score that doesn’t detract from the film itself.
It is a wonderful film to see with the family. It has everything a child wants to see. There are musical numbers, there’s a bear who loves honey (any child who ever loved Winnie the Pooh will fall in love with Baloo), there are the cute little wolf pups who always want to play and so much more.
The only reason I can think of for one to not see this movie is if you don’t like movies where animals speak. Other than that, it’s a fun ride all the way.
For a movie shot entirely on sound stages with extensive use of computer generated imagery, you have to hand it to Neel Sethi for holding his own against green screens and whatnot and yet giving a powerful performance that draws you in. If he can do this surrounded by almost nothing, what would he do with practical settings?
He will go places if he chooses to pursue acting as a career and continues to give the sort of performance he gave in this film.
I can’t recommend the movie enough and it is one of the better films I have seen this year.
Final Score: 9/10