Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book was a film I wasn’t sure I wanted or needed to see. A part of Disney’s plan of making live-action remakes out of a slew of their classics (including the upcoming Beauty and the Beast and Mulan), it just seemed like it would be an okay film, especially after Maleficent and Cinderella. But the thing is, The Jungle Book has all of the magic and charm you would expect from a Disney film. I was taken in to the thick, lush jungles and mysterious plains of India where several times I completely forgot that probably 85% of the film is CGI.
The animation of each character is much smoother than one might expect and the voicework stands on equal ground quality-wise, especially Ben Kingsley as Bagheera and Idris Elba as Shere Khan. However, the main problem I kept having was that some of the voices were just too recognizable. Christopher Walken as King Louie and Scarlett Johansson as the serpent Kaa weren’t necessarily bad, I just wish they would have found someone that wasn’t so instantly recognizable and well-known. Be assured, the two still mesmerize when on-screen. Also, be sure to be on the lookout for a certain musical instrument during the introduction to King Louie for a nice easter egg!
For those expecting a scene-for-scene-remake of the animated classic released in 1967, I can’t tell you if you’ll be disappointed or relieved but I for one was the latter. The film obviously takes lots of cues from its predecessor while building around them in an entirely more fulfilling and necessary way. The cues provide a sense of nostalgia to an otherwise very new plot and type of movie. I sincerely cared for the characters and worried for them, something that, if it had been a direct translation, wouldn’t have happened and would have just overall felt hollow.
Overall, I could really recommend this movie to anyone. It isn’t too scary or harsh and while it doesn’t explore incredibly deep lessons it still feels full. It has cute wolf puppies and scary tigers, beautifully rendered jungles, and the kind of acting you would expect a cast of this caliber to have. Even though a couple cast members snap you back to reality, you won’t care by the end of the movie and it will leave you excited to see how Disney handles the rest of their live-action remakes.
I give this movie an 8.5/10