Refuge Reviews- Disney's The Jungle Book (2016)
Disney's 3rd adaptation of famed author Rudyard Kipling's timeless tale, The Jungle Book is perhaps their most ambitious and in my humble opinion their greatest!
The technological achievement displayed here is staggering. DIrector Jon Favreau and his team of FX specialists created the entire film completely with CGI effects. Every leaf, tree, river and animal was painstakingly animated with a realistic fidelity that tricks you into believing its all real. The jungles of India have never looked this detailed and the animals move and emote convincingly. The fact that the whole film was shot in a studio in Los Angeles, CA is shocking. The only practical element to the movie is the human characters, predominantly Mowgli, the boy lost in the jungle and raised by wolves. Portrayed in this version of the story by newcomer Neel Sethi, who does a capable job of acting alongside nothing but green screen, but at times shows his inexperience in some of the movie's more dramatic moments. Overall though he is a believable and earnest kid that keeps you invested in Mowgli's jungle adventures.
The voice cast that brings these animals to life is all-around phenomenal! Bill Murray leads the pack as the lovable sloth bear, Baloo and is immediately going to be your kid's favorite character as he injects some much needed humor right when its needed most in the story. His rendition of the classic song, "The Bare Necessities" is probably one of the highlights of this already crowd-pleasing film. Ben KIngsley as Bagheera the panther is also great as Mowgli's guide and teacher, while Idris Elba is absolutely fearsome as the villainous tiger, Shere Kahn. This interpretation of the man-hating tiger is terrifying with his one white eye and jagged scar, plus his increased involvement in the story gives him moments to be particularly vicious and a suitable foil to Mowgli and his friends. Christopher Walken as King Louie the Gigantopithicus is as awesome as you would expect and when he starts singing, "I Wanna Be Like You," what is at first jarring becomes a moment of nostalgic pleasure. The only character not given much screen-time is Scarlett Johannson's sneaky python Kaa, who is given only one scene and whose song, "Trust in Me" is relegated to the end credits.
As a huge fan of the original 1967 animated film and the 1994 live-action version, I went in with a lot of expectations and this film met them all! I was engrossed from the opening scene (which features the animated film's opening musical score no less) to the final moments that set up a probable sequel. The story expands upon the animated film in all the areas it should, like a suitable good-bye to the wolves who raised him and a far more thrilling final encounter with Shere Kahn. I honestly don't think that anyone could make a better version of this timeless tale. I have seen it twice already and can't wait to see it again. If I were to sum up this movie in one word it would be: Magical!
The film is rated PG for scenes of action and peril. While devoid of language, it does feature a number of scenes that are scary, violent and/or suspenseful. A handful of characters are killed in this film in non-graphic ways, but can be shocking at times. The tiger Shere Kahn is scary from his first appearance to his last and he chases Mowgli and his friends throughout which is harrowing to say the least, as he gives off menace in every one of his scenes. I would say that kids under the age of 8 might be a bit scared, but of course that can depend on the child.