“The Jungle Book” Review

GUEST POST BY DAVID ROBINSON

Genre: Family/Adventure
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks
Starring: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson and Christopher Walken
Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Rating: Rated PG for “some sequences of scary action and peril.”
Plot Summary: “A child, who has lived in the jungles of India all his life, is guided by a bear and a panther to human society when his life is threatened by a tiger.”

I was skeptical of this film because it seems as though Disney’s latest marketing strategy has been to remake every single last successful animated film they’ve ever produced into a live action feature in order to milk more money from audiences. After seeing this adaptation of “The Jungle Book” from director Jon Favreau I can confirm what all of the other critics are saying about this movie: “Disney’s still got it!”

The bare necessities that were required to make me love Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” more than the original 1967 version were simple and straightforward: it needed to have good voice acting, a fun adventure and excellent CGI animation. All I can say is that the film hit all three of these aspects spot on and at no point during this story was I ever let down or disappointed.

The 2016 remake of “The Jungle Book” is faithful to its 1967 predecessor and unique in its own creative way. This version is similar to the 1967 version in the sense that it is a fun and enjoyable experience for all ages. There are high elements of humor, adventure, drama and suspense in this story and they all work together in making a classic, fun Disney film for everyone to enjoy.

Where this film strayed away from the original formula and flashed it’s own unique style was in two aspects: the first of them being the CGI. This is truly the best use of CGI that I have seen since 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and I hold two thumbs up high in the air to the graphics team of this movie. Not a single shot of this film was practical or filmed in a jungle and while that might disappoint some people, it certainly didn’t disappoint me due to how real and beautiful the visual team behind this movie made everything look. I am more than confident that this film has the potential to receive a nomination at the next Academy Awards for “Best Visual Effects”. The visuals of this film were so amazing that I, like many others who saw this, watched in awe at the beauty of them and pondered the magnificent idea of Jon Favreau directing a “Star Wars” film.

The second aspect of this film that makes it so original was the voice cast: Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson and the great Christopher Walken all lend their outstanding voices to this film and they all do it so well that they end up making their characters seem human, even though they’re all animals. Everyone who voice acted in this movie did a great job, but the highlights came from Idris Elba as the maniacal tiger, Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken as the powerful and dynamic King Louie. Idris Elba proves with his voice that he knows what he’s doing by infusing deep, dark grit into Shere Khan while Christopher Walken brings a chilling, yet interesting look at a Gigantopithecus who craves power. I’m not aware of an award that celebrates an actor’s or actress’ voice acting performance, but if there was such a thing and I was hosting it, every single major voice actor and actress in this film would be getting an award.

Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” is perfect in pretty much every way, so it gets an “A” from me. I highly encourage anyone who enjoys Disney films or the original “Jungle Book” and anyone who is looking for a fun, family adventure to see this.

On a side note, competition seems to have spiked highly in Hollywood since the legendary actor and motion capture artist, Andy Serkis, has announced his directorial debut will be another adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel, “The Jungle Book”. The film will hit theaters on October 19, 2018 and it will star Andy Serkis as Baloo, Christian Bale as Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan, Cate Blanchett as Kaa and Rohan Chand as Mowgli. Serkis quoted in an interview back in March of 2015 that his take on “The Jungle Book” would be much closer to Rudyard Kipling’s story, in the sense that it would be much more darker and realistic than the Disney version. Will Serkis be able to top Favreau’s and Disney’s 2016 success? Only time will tell…

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