The Jungle Book (2016) Review

Synopsis - The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don't have his best interests at heart.

-IMDB

I just saw the live action adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book directed by Jon Favreau. First of all let me say that I am a huge Disney fan, regardless I still would have told you that I loved this movie. Disney have been going full steam with their live action adaptations of their animated classics like Maleficent, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and now The Jungle Book. I’ve got to say this is definitely the best one yet I think they’ve finally perfected the recipe!

If you’ve seen the original animated version from 1967 you probably already know the plot but it does a great job of still engaging you and keeps you on the edge of your seat with its great pacing and storytelling, it never really slows down or gets boring. It’s also pretty impressive with how it takes the story and makes it flow far better than the sort of choppy segmented way in the original animated version. The screenwriters made wise choices to alter and/or shorten certain scenes from the original. What really made this movie special though were the performances. My goodness they were all spot on. You expect greatness from the star studded cast of the voice actors but one of most pleasant surprises was Neel Sethi who plays Mowgli. Sethi for his debut he did great, there were a few scenes that were kind of rough around the edges or poor line delivery but it never took me out of the experience. He also did as many of his own stunts which is impressive because the scenes of him running in and on the trees look great and seamless. I remember seeing those parts and thinking to myself, “is he actually running on those trees?” Turns out sort of, he was running on a green screen set but still impressive nonetheless. As mentioned before the allstar voice cast was awesome! Idris Elba who is quickly becoming one of Disney’s go to voice actors with Chief Bogo in Zootopia and later this summer in Finding Dory is intimidating as Shere Khan. Bill Murray as Baloo is hilarious and give a great performance, as you would think, but it is a little hard to get passed how recognizable his voice is that you can’t help but think “that’s just Bill Murray as a bear” same thing with Christopher Walken as King Louie. I also can’t say enough about Ben Kingsley as Bagheera his presence could really be felt with his authoritative aura yet you could still feel the warmth and care Bagheera had for Mowgli throughout the movie.

Visually this movie really sets a new bar for photo-realistic CGI animals because HOLY CRAP! Some of the animals looked so real and yet their facial expressions made them feel very human and the emotions of the voice performances could really be seen. I was impressed at just how good the all the animals looked. While not as impressive the jungle environment was sufficient you definitely tell that a lot of it was CGI. It had that very clean and glossy look to it but it doesn’t take you out of the experience like it does with say like the Star Wars prequels did by throwing it in your face. The movie looks amazing though, very beautifully shot especially the wider shots of Mowgli travelling through the jungle. The one complaint I have was that many of the action scenes were shot very close up and shaky so it was difficult to keep up with what actually was happening in the fights. I was often thinking “ok who’s winning the fight now?” As far as the score goes it complemented the movie really well it didn’t stand out but it really brought great emotion to each scene. Then again some say the best soundtracks are the ones you don’t even notice.  Oh and I can’t review The Jungle Book without mentioning the “Bare Necessities” I loved this rendition of the song, it fits so well and such a fun scene! 

One weird thing that crossed my mind throughout the film but really doesn’t mean anything, add or take away from it is “was why can some animals talk and others can’t?” It never really explains this nor should it but I just found it funny and made me think.

Bottom line, it’s a fun and beautifully made movie with some really great performances and updates a classic for a new generation of families!  

Should you see it?: Yes!

Theater Worthy: Yes! In IMAX

Final Grade: B