Disney delivers fun, visually stunning adaptation of ‘The Jungle Book’
Another classic animated Disney film makes it to the big screen this week as Iron Man director Jon Favreau adapts The Jungle Book using the latest motion capture and CGI technology. Newcomer Neel Sethi stars alongside the biggest names in Hollywood: Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba and Lupita Nyong’o – all lending voices to the iconic characters.
The live-action tale follows the animated story pretty closely as Mowgli(Sethi), the Man-cub, is raised by wolves after being saved by a panther named Bagheera (Kingsley). Mowgli’s presence in the jungle angers a disfigured Bengal tiger named Shere Khan (Elba), who will stop at nothing to enact his revenge against Man by murdered the boy.
Fearful of the impact on the pack of wolves, Mowfli flees deeper into the jungle, not wanting to go the “man village” and encounters all sorts of creatures, including a giant seductive snake (Johansson) and a lovable sloth bear named Baloo.
Favreau and Disney allowed for some creative liberty, staying faithful to the Rudyard Kipling characters, but may surprise fans with the amazing visuals and stunning special effects. Talking animals is generally an Achilles heal to delivering a strong narrative and entertaining drama, but The Jungle Book balances perfectly all of the elements of humor, adventure, some music and a thrilling climax.
Every actor comes alive in their beast’s face and mannerisms. Murray’s Baloo is kind, loving, silly, but never falls into the juvenile trappings like Murray’s Garfield. Omitting long-winded musical numbers, Favreau teases fans with some of the classics, including a melodic effort from Walken’s King Louie, never allowing the tone of the film to suffer.
Elba’s Shere Khan is terrifying and the scenes may be intense for really young viewers, under age 5, but The Jungle Book showcases Sethi’s Mowgli perfectly.
The film was beautiful and captivating in 3D and worthy of multiple screenings, so expect Disney to have another blockbuster. Moreover, Warner Bros. may be scrambling as the studio hired Andy Serkis to direct Jungle Book Origins, an adaptation of their own.
Favreau truly amazed with this project. The 1967 Jungle Book is bogged down with a bunch of characters not relevant to a bigger story and music which disconnects from the tale to entertain children. In 2016, The Jungle Book becomes a large-scale playground full of creatures, big and small, with this weird and energetic human running around – brilliant.
The Jungle Book receives 4 out of 5 stars