Disney is in the zone with their live action remakes. With Maleficent and Cinderella being box office hits, the animation studio finally bridged out of the princesses and went to another kingdom. This time around we dive into a wilder world filled with danger, death, and of course…talking animals. That’s right, today’s review is on the Jungle Book and once more I’m here to give some insight on the latest films to grace the theater. So enough chatting, let’s get started.
- Incredible Graphics
- Voice Acting
- Emotional/Suspenseful Story
- Very fun and cute at moments
If you have seen the trailers, then it should come as no surprise that Jungle Books strongest quality is the animation. Disney continues to push the boundaries of real life animation. The denizens of this jungle are incredibly detailed, with rippling fur, incredibly detailed muscle movements, and a glorious shine that screams high definition gold. There are some moments where the realism is lost and the sheen shows the CGI, however these moments are overshadowed by the story and not much of a weakness. And the jungle itself is even more breathtaking as the flora pops to life in both color and contrast. Where props end and CGI begins is hard to tell, but trust me the world was brought to life much better than I ever imagined.
Where the technology brought the animals to life, it was the voice acting that brought the characters. Ben Kingsley as the regal Bagheera was a perfect choice. Kingsley brought all the qualities of the mentor with his stern voice, but adding that emotional sentimental edge that showed he cared. Idris Elba as Shere Kahn was another rocking pick, his deep, bellowing voice spiced with the sinister edge that was perfect for the villain role. Yet the best voice casting goes to Bill Murray who we all know has a long track record of playing the care free, high on life character. Baloo is essentially the animal version of Murray, and if they had added a cigar to the mix, would have been a furrier version of his St. Vincent character. Our other cast was spot on as well and Jungle Books voice cast fit every role necessary.
In terms of the story, Jungle Book gets points for this as well. It sticks to the 1967 cartoon version well, deviating at a few moments to give it a darker edge The emotion in the story is surprisingly lacking at parts, maybe due to the delivery or perhaps the fast pace. But the emotion really hits at the right moments to get your skin tingling with goose bumps. Now I can’t lie that much of the movie lacked suspense for me, a predictable tale that I had memorized from my cartoon watching days. Yet I would also be lying if I didn’t say Shere Kahn’s scenes had me on the edge of my seat at times, wondering what decisions his devious mind would make. Baloo and Mowgli’s relationship though goes the lighter sides of things and fills the cute and cuddly role to the T, while also bringing some of the audience to tears. This relationship was an essential component to the fun of this film and one of the best real life to digital character relations I’ve seen in a while.
- Short sighted scenes
- A few over-exaggerated moments
What do I mean by short sighted scenes? I mean that some of the scenes could have been epic, but were delivered in a manner that left me feeling cheated. The Kaa scene is one of these moments. The Indian python was the leading voice for the trailers, but in this film the snake was more of a cameo than anything else. Sure she played a role in shedding light on Mowgli’s origins, but shortly after that she is cut from the film (quite the opposite from the cartoon version.) There were other moments that were very similar, but lacked the finesse I was expecting and instead turned into a convenient scene meant to fill in a plot hole. Many of these moments, due to their rushed nature, felt very over acted and lost the emotional appeal it was going for. Mowgli (Neel Sethi) did well overall, but the little guy occasionally trekked into a whiny, unimpressive delivery that was a little annoying.
The biggest weakness for me though was the singing. I give them props for effort and award them points for taking a risk, but the singing paled so much to the original soundtrack. Bill Murray doing the Baloo song had some pizazz and again was a cute dynamic to their relationship. Christopher Walken singing King Louie’s song though is a different story. It’s more comical then good, and is lacking in a lot of things that not even Auto tune can fix. Pretty much, it’s just another method to extend the movie and merchandising for this film. Fortunately the symphony scores makes up for these songs, but unfortunately they can’t give you back the time the singing takes away.
This rendition of the Jungle Book impressed me. The adventure is fun and fast paced while also bringing a little emotion to the picture. An incredible cast makes for fun characters that your little ones and you will latch on to. But it is the incredible artificial world that brings you into the movie and makes you feel as if you stepped into a Disney theme park ride. I strongly encourage everyone to hit the theaters for this film and can say this film merits a screening in 3-D if you have the chance. Word of warning, there may be moments a bit too intense for little kids, especially if they jump at loud noises.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 8.0