Disney’s The Jungle Book Review

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No other studio has been as hot as Walt Disney Studios lately. Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney Animation have all been releasing hit after hit with no end in sight. Walt Disney Studios themselves have been going through their animation library to see which animated films they can make put into live-action. Last year, Kenneth Branagh brought the magic of Cinderella on-screen and now it’s Jon Favreau’s turn with his Jungle Book adaptation. But does The Jungle Book continue the hot streak that Disney’s been on or does is it a cheap adaptation of a beloved classic?

The Jungle Book is a remarkably entertaining film that respectfully honors the original animated classic. Not only that but the film is a CGI work of art that perfectly blends its CGI animals and environment with its star Neel Sethi.

The Jungle Book follows Mowgli, a man-cub raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan promises to eliminate the man-cub who he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a journey guided by a panther, Bagheera, and Baloo the bear. Along the way, Mowgli encounters various jungle creatures on his epic journey to re-joining the man village.

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If you’re unaware, The Jungle Book is a film that’s entirely CGI, except for Mowgli. Many expected the film to be as uneven in the way the film portrays the real actors with its CGI counterparts, but Favreau and his team have seemingly made cinematic history with The Jungle Book. The seamless blend of a human actor, practical effects, and hyper-realistic CGI help immerse the audience into this fantastical world. After a while, you’ll forget that you’re watching a film that’s 98% CGI. Filmmaking on this scale requires a skill of the highest caliber, and Favreau and his massive CGI team should be commended for this technical feat.

However, getting the world to believable is just half of Jon Favreau’s battle. The other half is getting the fun and adventurous feel of the original film. He clearly has a lot of affection for the 1967 animated film, but he smartly doesn’t try to improve on it or rehash it. Sure, “The Bare Necessities,” “I Wan’Na Be Like You,” and several other beloved elements of the original are still there, but the rest are replaced by something darker, expansive, and immersive.

Favreau puts a lot of detail into his main star too as Mowgli is not impervious to pain. He gets hurt, gets bloodied, feels hunger, and gets cold. The jungle in real life is dangerous, and Favreau painstakingly shows the wear and tear of jungle life on Mowgli. His life is constantly at risk but Mowgli enjoys the wonders of his incredible surroundings. This dichotomy is what makes the audience feel and relate to the character. Kids will also learn a valuable lesson on staying strong even in the face of terrifying events.

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Speaking of Sethi, it’s clear that he’s relatively new to the acting game with the occasionally stilted line, but he’s still a marvel. Sethi’s eyes-wide authenticity and friendliness allow audiences to relate with Mowgli which is important considering he’s the only real actor in the film. Sethi is accompanied by the star-studded voice cast. Kingsley gives his usual strong performance Mowgli’s loving mentor, Bagheera. Murray is absolutely flawless as Baloo as his slacker charm perfectly embodies Baloo’s personality.

With his signature voice, Walken channels his inner Don Corleone as King Louie. Weirdly the Godfather persona works well with a more intimidating version of King Louie. The lovely Scarlett Johansson kills it as a seductress version of Kaa. Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito give a subtle blend of grit and tenderness as Mowgli’s wolf parents. But Idris Elba steals the show as the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. Elba just has that menacing voice where each line is given with a sinister tone. It sounds as if Elba took great delight in the role.

Overall, The Jungle Book is a fun and high-spirited adventure about finding yourself and defining what truly makes a family. It leaves a sense of wonder and creative expression unparalleled in today’s films. Favreau has truly raised the bar on Disney’s live-action adaptations. Walt Disney would be proud.

Rating: 5/5 atoms
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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1422 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.