If you’re a true Disney fan, you’d have seen all of the classics (and I don’t mean Frozen). One of my favorites as a kid was, and still is, The Jungle Book. Reviving an animated classic with a live action adaptation is usually a recipe for disaster (just look at the last two live action Jungle Books) but this time they got right.
Now for starters, this is a slightly different take on the original classic. It’s still about a boy found in the woods by a panther, who is the raised by wolves and hunted by a tiger. But at its heart, this film is so much more. You develop a real connection with the main character, Mowgli. While the writing and directing is superb, this is mostly down to the brilliant on screen performance of newcomer Neel Seethi.
Seethi’s portrayal of Mowgli is both charismatic and heartwarming. He brings a sense of belonging and connection to the character which previous actors weren’t able to attain. Doing all this in front of a green screen is no easy task, especially for a child. I expect great things from that young man.
There’s a lot of emphasis on what makes Mowgli different, and why Man reigns supreme over animals. They call his ingenious ways of doing things “tricks”. But using tricks is not wolf way, and is looked down upon as cheating, or considered weird by the other animals. The way they show Man’s real genius and ingenuity through the eyes of a child is quite remarkable.
Director John Favreau was told by Disney to take advantage of the story and setting to really make use of the latest CGI, photorealistic rendering and motion capture technology. Favreau did this beautifully by creating breathtaking scenery and lifelike animals that are more than just background fillers. They become a character in the story. As the scenery changes, so does the feel of the entire film.
Featuring a star studded vocal cast, my favorite has to be Bill Murray’s Baloo. He plays a classic Bill Murray character who is lazy as can be but has a noble heart. He’s willing to do anything to defend his new found friend. Scarlett Johanson does an incredible job as Kaa the snake. When she speaks to Mowgli, it sends shivers down your spine.
My only gripe about this whole film is the “I wanna be like you” song sung by King Louie the Orangutan. Christopher Walken voices a great character, but the song is really awkward in the way it’s presented and really doesn’t fit. There must be a better way to make it fit in and flow better. Aside from being choppy and a bit creepy, it just doesn’t make any sense in relevance to the story.
I watched the Jungle Book in IMAX 3D and the beautifully shot movie was well worth the ticket price. If you’re a Disney fan and love the original Jungle Book, this is a must watch.