Director Jon Favreau
Cast Neel Sethi, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken
Rating PGV
Genre Action/Superhero
Running Time 1 Hour 46 Min.

The Jungle Book opened on 16 April 2016 to both fans of the classic 1967 Disney movie and youngster who will be told the story for the first time.

This time around Disney remade the story into a mixture of live-action and CGI. The new movie, directed by Jon Favreau, follows Rudyard Kipling’s same story of a man-cub named Mowgli (portrayed by Neel Sethi) who has been raised in a jungle by a pack of proud wolves. Mowgli is forced to flee the jungle because he is being hunted by the feared and scarred tiger, Shere Kan (voiced by Idris Elba). Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley) is a strict and serious black panther who protects Mowgli and tries to get him safely out of the jungle and to the man-village to live amongst his own kind. Along the adventure, Mowgli comes across many new animal friends like the free-spirited, honey-loving Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray) or the seductive snake, Kaa (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).

In this version of The Jungle Book, we’re immediately introduced to the wolf pack and we see a deep emotional connection between Mowgli and his wolf-mother, Raksha (voiced by Lupita Nyong’o). She is a very strong character and one we’re happy was able to shine through as an alpha female. Mowgli is desperate to belong to the wolf pack and tries his best to remain focused and true to the jungle-way of living. But we’re told early on in the film that he is “taking his time with growing up” compared to his wolf family members. There is a constant contrast between the light-hearted little boy who likes to fool around and who is also a skilled inventor, versus a man-cub needing to grow up and accept the jungle ways or leave. This pull that Mowgli experiences continues throughout the movie and highlights the tough choices that Mowgli needs to make along his journey.

Neel Sethi’s portrayal of Mowlgi is brilliant. He possess a wide emotional range and he had us rooting for him the whole way. He was able to not only be witty with his words but he had a sort of cheeky (sometimes cocky) body language reminiscent of the cartoon Mowgli. Seeing as no real animals were used for the filming of the movie, Sethi had to rely on his imagination to talk and interact with the animals, which he did naturally. His slight touching or nudging of animals surrounding him or reacting to a very real-looking, but obviously CGI-created flash-flood, bring the CGI and life-action together to create a realistic and authentic experience.

If you love animals, then you’re going to love The Jungle Book. It’s sometimes hard to believe that none of the animals in the movie are real as they were created with such precision that you’re instantly fooled.

From the beloved Baloo to the massive and slithering Kaa, every main animal character was created to make existing fans nostalgic and new fans fall in love with them. Talking animals could be difficult to get right, but The Jungle Book pulled it off perfectly and we’re constantly (and delightedly) fooled into thinking these characters really exist. There are other animal creatures in the movie that will definitely steal your heart like the possessive hedgehog and the adorable wolf puppies. There are birds, bees and everything in between in the movie. We have to give a special mention to King Louis (voiced by Christopher Walken), who was less of a goofball character this time around and was portrayed like a kingpin gangster. This iteration of the king of the swingers is larger-than-life in more ways than one and I actually preferred Walken’s King Louis to the King Louis portrayed in the 1967 movie. Shere Kan has a bigger role in this version compared to the 1967 movie where the character was only introduced on-screen in the last few acts of the movie. This was a welcoming change as it gave the movie a sense of urgency and purpose.

This iteration of The Jungle Book is visually breath-taking and you’ll be blown away when you read at the end of the credits that the entire movie was:

Filmed in Downtown Los Angeles

The nature scenes are done so realistically that it’s difficult to believe that it isn’t true.

Aside from being visually breathtaking, the story carries a lot of heart and ultimately The Jungle Book is a fun family film. Yes, there are some dark and scary moments mixed with strong emotions, but these are balanced out with light and funny scenes when things get too heavy. There are hilarious moments where you can’t help but laugh like a child, but some scenes might make you reach for the tissues too. The movie isn’t overly violent, but it isn’t without some action sequences and it does get slightly creepy and scary. What we loved is that Favreau managed to introduce The Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You songs into the movie without it feeling too forced. Although there are fun and foolish moments for the family, The Jungle Book still managing to come across as a film to be taken seriously.

Verdict

After a whole array of successful Disney life-action remakes like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, as well as Jon Favreau directing, we expected The Jungle Book would cool. But we didn’t expect the movie to blow us away like it did. It had comedy, heart, family fun and visuals that will take your breath away.

We highly recommend you go watch this stunning story about self-exploration and conquering fear and discrimination which is in cinemas now.

RELATED: THE JUNGLE BOOK IMAX TRAILER GIVES MOWGLI ORIGIN STORY

The Jungle Book Review: Big Visuals, Big Heart
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