There are hundreds of movies that I love, thousands that I like and millions that I hold slight or grand begrudges against but above all of these, there are a select few films that I would consider to be perfect and The Jungle Book is one of them. I am of course referring to the 1967 Disney animated classic. Oh and the new one? Yeah it has its moments.
The Jungle Book follows Mowgli, a human orphan raised by wolves who after being threatened by Shere Khan, the most vicious tiger in the jungle, must be transported to a human village for safety by Bagheera, the wise panther.
This film is yet another adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 novel of the same name, except instead of it being a direct live-action adaptation or a direct animation, it’s a combination of the two.
The Jungle Book has the best CGI that I’ve ever seen in any movie ever. And I have full confidence in saying that because it’s true.
None of The Jungle Book was shot in a jungle, everything was shot in a soundstage with blue or green screens with insane detail added through image technology and you honestly wouldn’t be able to tell because it looks so damn realistic.
In fact, the only character in The Jungle Book who wasn’t created on a computer was Mowgli, played by debut actor Neel Sethi who is quite astounding. To play the sole human character in a film filled with nothing but pixels is quite the task when you think about it, considering the fact that Sethi would have noone to deliver his lines to or to receive his lines from. But in the end of what sounds like an impossible and dreary acting task, Neel Sethi makes talking to noone sound easy. Now that I think about it, that didn’t sound right.
Despite there being only one human character in this film, there is an impeccable cast behind the microphones.
Bill Murray (the king of ’80s movie comedy) voices the iconic best-friend bear Baloo to great results, delivering every line with his natural talent to make every word sound friendly.
Ben Kingsley portrays Bagheera, the wise black panther who has protected and mentored Mowgli the ways of the jungle since he was a baby. I honestly don’t think anyone besides Kingsley could portray the panther as well as he did, providing a voice which resembles that of a British army drill sergeant and providing it well.
Shere Khan is voiced by the booming-voiced Idris Elba and oh my god, he has a voice that would make actual tigers run away. Idris Elba’s voice is so powerful that he could tell me how much he loves truffles and I’d still be scared.
The famously hypnotic snake Kaa is voiced by Scarlett Johansson in this adaptation and for Kaa’s brief runtime, I felt I was in a trance. Scarlett Johansson is known for having quite a moving voice and she made Kaa about as hypnotic as she could be.
And of course, the star player in The Jungle Book, the only actor who could reassure my previous doubts in this movie, Christopher Walken plays King Louie incredibly. The character was changed from a mere orangutan to a gigantopithecus (it’s extinct, Google it) and his purpose was changed from incredible song setup to adventure movie monster but all in all, being voiced by Christopher Walken, King Louie was fantastic. I was as scared as I was excited. Scared because the character was voiced so well and excited because… well… Christopher Walken.
I knew that this movie wasn’t a musical and that it had little to no intention of being a musical but I was kind of hoping for Walken to sing I Wan’na Be Like You and much to my surprise and utter delight, HE DID (He sings the first bit during the movie as part song part spoken word but stay around for the credits because he sings the song in it’s entirety there)!
The Jungle Book (now talking about the ’60s animated classic) is in my opinion, a perfect film and to be a perfect film it must contain a perfect story (which it did). Now The Jungle Book (now I’m talking about the new one), being a remake of said perfect film, should contain a perfect story… but does it? Not really.
The change from family musical animated to (sort of) live-action action-adventure will come with a few obvious changes but not all were good. For instance, my favourite characters from the original (the British vultures that were written to resemble The Beatles) were swapped out for a 3 second shot of some vultures picking at bones. No words were spoken on that cold winter’s night.
Also I didn’t connect with Baloo here as much as I did in the animated version but that may be because Baloo in the animated version had a voice I didn’t recognise from anywhere. Sorry Bill Murray.
The Jungle Book has made a drastic leap from family musical to action-adventure film and despite a few minor lackings, this change is refreshing and it works. It may not work as well in its genre as the original but it works for what it is. And what it is is an exciting adventure movie with some very exciting scenes.
The Jungle Book has the best CGI I’ve ever seen, an impeccable cast who all knock their characters right out of the ballpark, some very exciting scenes, a few moments of nostalgia and most important of all, Christopher Walken sings I Wan’na Be Like You. And isn’t that what everyone wants?
What did you think of The Jungle Book? Leave your comment on the side and don’t forget to follow my Instagram page for movie posters.