Jungle All The Way
HAKUNA MATATA ladies and gentlemen!
Welcome to my review of The Jungle Book; a film about a boy who follows his dream to ride a sabre-toothed tiger and become a singing scout leader after being raised by wild pandas.
Ok… I’ll admit it. I’ve never actually seen the original 1967 Disney classic. The good news is that I have no pre-conception about this latest reboot from Jon Favreau.
With the exception of Cowboys & Aliens which was a bigger mistake than denim on denim Jon Favreau continues to prove himself as a film maker capable of creating commercially successful films and in some ways The Jungle Book is his best film yet.
Calling the film a “live action version” of the original is misleading because apart from Mowgli (Neel Sethi) the film is about as real as Jordan’s boobs.
However, live action is also highly accurate because we are living in the future my friend. There will be times where you are convinced that you’re watching real animals trying to lick peanut butter off the roofs of their mouths; the CGI animation is that good. It’s unbelievable.
Through the animation of talking animals the makers could easily have… baloo it… sorry! Anyway, the excellent voice acting enlivens each of the main characters. Most notable for me were Ben Kingsley as Bagheera and Bill Murray as Baloo who really become the embodiment of Mowgli’s trusty protectors.
I could write an essay on how good each of the characters are but I’m already at risk of TLDR. Perhaps the exception to this is Idris Elba as Shere Kahn. I think that’s a personal thing. I find his voice too recognisable and a bit too London (“in tha jaaangle”) for my taste.
I actually wasn’t overly enamoured with Neel Sethi as Mowgli either. Sure, he looks the part and he even moves like a Mowgli should but he’s just not the revelation that Haley Joel Osment was in The Sixth Sense for example, which is a shame when the CGI work is so damn good.
Still, these are minor points because whether you are a child or an adult there is something for everyone. Children will obviously appreciate the talking animals and the unobtrusive introduction of classic songs but be warned it’s a lot darker and threatening than the original was… I’m guessing!
As an adult I actually appreciated this darker tone and the way it questions how humans and animals are able to co-exist. It’s interesting to think that animals shun wild humans because they are too dangerous rather than the other way around.
However, the film doesn’t really provide any wider conflict between humans and animals and neither does it pose answers of how we can co-exist without fucking everything up like we do at the minute.
Perhaps this can be explored in The Jungle Book 2? There are a lot of characters that can have their story fleshed out further and given the money it’s already raked in I’m sure Disney will make a sequel out of necessity: bare necessity!
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Stellar animation
+ Great voice acting
+ Darker than expected
– Idris on Kahn
– Neel Sethi