The Jungle book is a live action remake of Disney’s classic animated musical of the same name. It has a lot of the same characters and the same basic plot as the original film, but tries to expand and modernise certain things to make it feel fresh and new. The film follows the human child Mowgli, who grows up in the forest with a pack of wolves and his guardian Bagheera, a black panther. After the lives of himself and his pack being threatened by the Tiger Shere Khan Mowgli is forced to leave, and with the help of Bagheera and a variety of other animals, including the care free Bear Baloo, makes his way to the human village on the edge of the jungle. It is a very simple story that has potential to be a lot of fun, and I’m happy to say this film was. This adaptation is directed by Jon Favreau and stars child actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli and the voices of Sir Ben Kingsley, Bill Murry, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken.
Firstly, The CGI in this film is amazing. While I was watching I thought they must have filmed a lot of it on location because there are parts where the CGI is unrecognisable. I was amazed to learn that the whole film is either sets or CGI; it is some of the best CGI I’ve seen and I think it’ll be a long time before it looks dated, if ever. It is a very beautiful film, with amazingly colourful and detailed visuals that held my attention throughout. The animals all look fantastic as well. The film is worth seeing just for the stunning visuals and cinematography. Favreau does a really good job of creating the feel of the jungle. It feels expansive, varied, dangerous and mysterious, and there are a few moments that actually feel quite tense. It’s also quite funny, and while it it’s a kids film it can definitely be enjoyed by all ages.
The voice acting was great. Bill Murry as Baloo was a perfect fit, he was relaxed and smooth and instantly loveable. Shere Khan, voiced by Elba, was very sinister and menacing and a great villain for a children’s film. My favourite performance though was Kingsley’s voice as Bagheera, I’m not sure why but it blended brilliantly with the character. Sethi was also quite good as Mowgli, especially when you consider how young he is and that he had to imagine all the other animals. I did find him a little irritating at times though. Christopher Walken as the giant Orangutan King Louie was also a lot of fun.
My issues with the film are with some of the story choices. There were times when the film seemed like it was trying to be too serious and overly dramatic. It over complicated itself with unnecessary jungle politics and character back stories. I won’t spoil anything but they explained things a bit too much to try and connect certain characters, usually through expositional dialogue that felt quite jarring at times. To me the simplicity of the story was ruined a bit by attempting to take things too seriously. For example they tried to make King Louie seem ominous and scary, but he’s a giant monkey voiced by Walken that sings, so it didn’t really sit right with me. That’s another thing to touch on, as there are a couple of songs from the original film in this which felt really out of place as this film really isn’t set up as a musical. I also had some problems with Mowgli’s character, as they made him into some kind of jungle crafting expert which I didn’t really like. Finally, I felt like the ending was very rushed; Mowgli accidentally does something quite disastrous , which I felt to be a big deal, but the characters basically ignored it and it’s resolved really rapidly which made me wonder why it was even part of the film.
The Jungle Book, while not a perfect film, is a very stunning film that has a lot of fun for both kids and adults. It’s worth seeing just for the stunning visuals.
P.S. It was hard to review this film, as apart from the amazing visual effects there wasn’t anything that made me really excited about it afterwards. Also I bought a coke at the cinema and I was unlucky and got a rubbish one, the mix was awful, almost no Coke syrup it was really watery and disgusting.