The Jungle Book is the latest live action remake of the much-loved Disney animated classic and Jon Favreau has nailed it. The story is inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name and tells the story of a Tazen-esq man-cub, Mowgli who is found alone in the jungle by by Bagheera, a black panther. Bagheera takes the young boy to a pack of wolves where he is raised by mama wolf Raksha. On one particular day during the dry season all the jungle is brought together to drink the remaining water by the peace rock, all following the ‘law of the jungle’ not to eat each other. However, the party atmos does not last when Bengal tiger Shere Khan rocks up and sniffs out young Mowgli. Khan threatens Mowgli’s life and points to his scared face to show the reasons for his hate of having a man in the jungle. This leaves our young man-cub and the wolves with a dilemma; should he rejoin mankind or stay in the jungle with all his furry friends?
Though this film is described as live action, this is basically an animated film. Apart from young Neel Sethi as Mowgli, all other characters are animated computer graphics, no motion capture here. With practical effects being in vogue right now thanks to Mad Max and Star Wars you might think CGI is a dirty word but this is certainly not the case when it comes to Disney’s Jungle Book. The first thing that stands out is the way it’s looks you just will not believe that they didn’t go to deepest Indian jungle to film some scenes in this movie, back drops are flawless.
Newcomer Neel Sethi is a delight and conveys a perfect balance of the enthusiasm, cuteness, positivity and innocence that only a child can have. A screen owning performance from a great young actor.
The remaining voice cast consists of a dream line up – Idris Elba as Shere Khan is menacing and wonderfully creepy and Scarlett Johansson plays python Kaa with her soothing hypnotic voice acting as her wepon against an unsuspecting Mowgli. Christopher Walken’s King Louie gives that instantly reconisable voice a new home and it’s spot on, a crowd pleaser if ever we saw one.
However, it’s Bill Murray’s honey loving lazy bear Baloo who steals the show. He’s wonderfully funny and cheeky and we just want him to be our best bud. Sprinkle that with the upbeat bear necessities duet and you will be sold.
This reboot is probably not for the little ones, maybe don’t take any kids under 6 as this version gets quite dark and it even had us jumping out of our seats a couple times.
A stunning and gripping retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic, The Jungle Book, is the complete package – drama, comedy and even a few scares make it a wonderful adventure film with the cute factor turned up to 11. Go see this movie!
Reviewed by Ian Wright & Ingrid Grenar.
Out in NZ cinemas from 21 April.