Starring: Neel Sethi
Featuring The Voices of: Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Lupita N’Yongo, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Garry Shandling, Scarlett Johansson
Directed By: Jon Faverau
An imaginative retelling of The Jungle Book that is absolutely gorgeous to look at. I know I haven’t seen even half the films still to come this year, but this had better be nominated for visual effects. Amazingly realistic animals and scenery, all done through visual effects. There’s a reason this is a runaway hit this year, and it has a lot to do with the love and attention paid to the look of the film. Also, Neel Sethi is fantastic as Mowgli. An excellent find for a child actor, who we sadly will probably never see again.
I loved The Jungle Book, but I did have a few small issues, and ultimately that’s what caused me to give this film an A- instead of an A. First, King Louie bursting into song with I Wanna Be Like You seemed a lot more odd, considering the film really only features two song moments. Bare Necessities happens a lot more naturally, but I Wanna Be Like You seemed more like they just wanted to get it in the movie because everyone loves that song so much. Another problem I had was that in the flashback, we see Mowgli as a toddler wearing pants, which I guess are the same pants he’s wearing now? There are very few 10 year old kids who could wear the same pants as a toddler, and I don’t think Mowgli is one of them. Also, he’s been wearing THE SAME PANTS for years. YEARS. And they’re in pristine condition. He should have had to replace them by now.
Also, living in the jungle, wouldn’t Mowgli have learned by now which animals were safe and which weren’t? How is he so easily lured in by Kaa? Are there nice snakes in his part of the jungle? There’s a snake at the watering hole so I know he’s seen them before. I don’t understand why he was scared of Baloo, but not of Kaa.
Voice work here is impeccable. Bill Murray is SO GOOD as Baloo. Perfect pairing of a voice with a character. Christopher Walken as King Louie gave him this mobster edge, which was unexpectedly awesome as well. Even the late Garry Shandling offers a lot as a porcupine.
And, if all else fails, this film created Gray who absolutely is the cutest CGI wolf puppy I’ve ever seen. I wanted to rush into the film and scoop him up and run away. His personality, voicework, and visuals combined for a distractingly cute supporting character.
If you haven’t seen The Jungle Book yet, please do. It’s actually my favorite film of the year so far and one that actually warrants the ticket price at the theatres. It’s beautiful on a big screen, and while I’m sure it will be just fine on your sweet 60″ TV, the love and care they put into the visuals deserves to be seen and appreciated on a big screen.
Kudos to Disney for not just remaking their classic, but reimagining it as well. Jon Faverau really is a fantastic director.
FINAL GRADE: A-