Score: 3.5 out of 5
This is film review 15
The jungle has never been brighter, the story has never been more mature, and the effects are quite decent in Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book.’ Jon Favreau – who you may know as the director of ‘Iron Man’ 1 & 2 and ‘Chef’, which he took the main role as a struggling cook – has given us his vision of not only the Rudyard Kipling books, but the original animated Disney movie which showed us a positive dancing blue bear named Baloo who became friends with a stubborn, yet cheerful man-cub named Mowgli. In this film, Mowgli is played by Neel Sethi, who is almost comparable to the animated man-cub. Sadly, his performance is disappointing; his delivery starts off as a boy who can’t project or scream when a bear wakes him up.
The bear – who you guessed is Baloo – is voiced by the always awesome Bill Murray. Murray is an actor who is known for having fun in his old age, and in this movie, he has fun reading his lines as the lovable bear. Joining the voice cast is Sir Ben Kingsley as Mowgli’s guardian, the black panther Bagheera, along with Scarlett Johannson as the seductive snake Kaa (a different take than Sterling Holloway’s voice in the animated classic), Idris Elba as the vengeful tiger, Shere Khan, who wants Mowgli dead, Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito as Raksha and Akela, Mowgli’s wolf parents who teach him the law of the forest (one which Baloo calls a piece of propoganda in one of the film’s funniest jokes), and Christopher Walken as giant orangutan King Louie.
The voice cast is amazing at how they portray their characters (I could say less for Walken, who portrays King Louie with his usual “Christopher Walken” mannerisms); I felt Kingsley as Bagheera as well as I felt Elba as Shere Khan. I also could feel the warmth Nyong’O had as Raksha while she talked to Mowgli. As many computer-effects as they were and how they were done, I didn’t expect much from them; they could have gone the ‘Jurassic World’ route, but there is plenty of detail on these animals to where these effects are as close to real as they are going to be.
The action sequences are suspenseful; I actually felt tension during the times where Mowgli was in serious danger. The fight scenes were especially well-done and animated realistically to where I thought I was seeing a panther fighting a tiger. The score by John Debney matches every scene to perfect effect with hints of the musical numbers from the original movie added. Will the score get an Oscar nomination? I’m hoping it will, because it’s fantastic.
‘The Jungle Book’ is different in storyline compared to the original film, which may turn some Disney buffs off and frighten kids, but I have to give the film props for not just catering to kids, but to adults as well. I also just found out that a sequel has been announced. Will it be closer to the animated sequel ‘The Jungle Book 2’? Probably not. Then again, maybe not. You’ll never know in Hollywood, especially with Disney. If you plan on seeing ‘The Jungle Book’, stay for the end credits; there’s an element that was added as a nice touch to the film itself and brings you back to the Disney movies of the old years.