The newest feature film adaptation of The Jungle Book is everything it was expected to be and so much more. This is only the second live-action film to be produced by Disney. The last live-action film was released in December 1994 but the animals talk this time around.
It’s been a few years since the last time I watched the animated classic but there are some nice homages to the classic, including the classic songs. The film doesn’t have all the songs but they have “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You,” the latter of which features some new lyrics written by Richard M. Sherman. “Trust in You,” sung by Scarlett Johansson, is featured during the end credits.
The visual effects team takes CGI to an entirely different level. I cannot stress this enough. It’s unbelievable as to just how great the visual effects are in the film. As Disney looks to update its animated films into live-action, every penny spent on this film on the visual effects were worth it. To say that Jon Favreau merely takes advantage of these technological updates would be an understatement.
The Jungle Book, with a script by Justin Marks, features a similar story to that of the animated classic. Neel Sethi steps up to the plate as the young man-cub, Mowgli. There’s quite the star-studded voice cast but it’s Bill Muray who impresses the most as our favorite bear, Baloo. Baloo has methods that differ from that of panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). For all intents and purposes, Christopher Walken really does become King Louie!
The updated technology makes for CGI animals that look realistic. The storytelling helps draw in audiences into the Jungle Book environment that has never been seen like this before on the big screen. A lot of film goers who grew up on the animated Disney classics may be hesitant to show up because they don’t want those classics to be ruined. They shouldn’t be at fault because of Hollywood running low on original ideas. The classic isn’t ruined. This builds upon it more so than the 1994 film and stays true to Rudyard Kipling’s book.
Everyone knows by now how Mowgli is raised by a pack of wolves led by Akela (Esposito) and Raksha (Nyong’o). This comes after Mowgli is delivered to them by Bagheera (Kingsley). Bagheera main mission is to guide Mowgli out of the jungle and back to the man village. This is due to Shere Khan (Elba) hunting him for dead. Khan sees him as a threat and wants Mowgli gone.
On his journey to the village, Mowgli has encounters with python Kaa (Johansson), Baloo, and King Louie . He encounters the elephants but they don’t talk like they do in the animated classic.
Favreau and Marks have chosen to embrace the myth of Kipling while leaving room for what people loved most about the animated classic. Throw in the realistic CGI, which I cannot stress enough, and a coming-of-age story that everyone is famiiar with and one gets a film that audiences will love.
DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau
SCREENWRITER: Justin Marks
CAST: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Neel Sethi, and Christopher Walken