Based on the book by Rudyard Kipling, Disney‘s classic The Jungle Book is one of many animated films remade in live-action. With most of the main characters being animals-completely done in CGI, I didn’t believe this film could work. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Not only does it work, it is an amazing accomplishment.
The story is pretty simple, especially if you’ve read the book or watched Disney’s animated film. We follow Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a young boy who’s being hunted by the vicious Shere Khan (Idris Elba). We also have Bageerha (Ben Kingsley) and Baloo (Bill Murray), trying to protect the boy and take him home. Neel Sethi did a fantastic job as Mowgli. You have to remember that most of this film is done with green screens and computer animation. This kid was the only human in the film, and he was a great lead. Some adults can’t turn in a good performance with this type of film-so this shows how good Sethi was.I must say that the entire cast is incredible. Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray were great as the film’s supporting characters. Shere Khan, the villain of the film is probably the best antagonist in a film this year. He’s fierce, intimidating and terrifying. Idris Elba was able to portray all of these things in his performance and it was incredible. The entire jungle was afraid of him and right away you understand why. Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha), and Giancarlo Esposito (Akela) were also solid in their roles. They play Mowgli’s adoptive parents, and you really feeln the connection between them and their son.
The animation in this film is some of the best you’ll ever see. There was never a moment when things looked too computer generated, and at times wouldn’t even know it was animated. The talking animals worked better than I thought it would (even The Planet of the Apes films don’t have much talking). They also managed to make the songs work. The way director Jon Favreau was able to bring the original film to life is something like we’ve never seen. It felt real and alive, but yet it had that feeling of nostalgia that it needed.
The film does have some pacing problems, but that’s mostly in the second act. We have some elements that happen a bit too sudden and some wasted characters. Scarlett Johansson (Kaa) and Christopher Walken (King Louie) could have gotten a bit more screen time, but once again this is not a major flaw. Their characters were so good that you hated to see them go, but that’s what a good film does. It makes you fall in love with every character and it leaves you wanting more.
Jon Favreau has outdone himself with this one. This film is even better than the original and it’s not even close. The animation, the voice acting and the story are all extremely well done. The main lead is great and has a bright future. The film has some dark moments and it really gave the film that extra emotion it needed. If all of Disney’s remakes are of the same quality as The Jungle Book, they need to keep them coming.