NON HORROR REVIEW- In a world that overrunneth with remakes, sequels and classical story retelling, it’s a rarity to find a production with new angles on these tales. With Disney’s newest theatrical release, ‘The Jungle Book’ audiences get much more than a new angle, they get a way of visual reproduction that until now was un-perfected.
Whether you base your relationship with the story of The Jungle Book from the initial 1967 Disney Animation film or the literary collection by Rudyard Kipling that was published in 1894, you should walk away from this 2016 effort with nearly a complete sense of satisfaction of a world that was penned nearly 125 years ago.
The technical aspects of this film go far beyond stunning, as I was personally engulfed and enthralled during the one hour and forty five minute film. While my eyes danced all around the screen during the run-time trying to catch everything on the goliath sized screen, I recalled attempts at visualizing the characters from Kipling’s work in ‘The Jungle Book’ as well as ‘Just So Stories’ when I was a boy reading them. Some of these characters were massively more expansive than anything I could have ever thought of, inciting an experience that was nothing shy of dreamlike.
The casting of these talking animals was top notch, even with the untimely usage of Idris Elba (Shere Khan) who is currently in the next cinema auditorium as Chief Bogo in ‘Zootopia’ and Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha) who was recently the voice of Maz Kanata in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ both Disney productions. However, if you aren’t familiar with either of those films, it might not effect you as much, but if you are then it will take a few moments to separate Bogo from Khan and Raksha from Maz.
If you are usually turned away from “live-action” films that have animals speaking, don’t let that happen to you with ‘The Jungle Book.’ You will be very surprised and taken back by the amount of work and effort Disney went through to get things right. Highlighted by Baloo, (Bill Murray) Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and King Louie (Christopher Walken) the characters you love are incredibly life like to the point that the only human, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) truly looks out of place, a stroke of brilliant purpose and execution within both the visual world of this film and the components of the original story.
Aside from falling in more love with some of the characters and songs, director Jon Faverue and co-writer Justin Marks really go above and beyond to sprinkle in more of Kipling’s influence than the 1967 Disney release, which should tip the balance of the scale in the favor of true Jungle Book fans. On the other hand, as usual Disney seems to borrow way too much emotionally fueled sequences from other films that worked the first time, but fall flat after you see the same scene in six other films. There were remnants of both ‘The Good Dinosaur’ and ‘The Lion King’ just to name two that some audiences will be callused to.
As for Sethi playing the part of Mowgli, although he was cute, I am surprised he got the green light to act in such a big role, as his skills as an actor are sub-par comparative to other youth-actors of today. He can speak clearly and on cue, but often times lacked the emotional backbone needed to bring ‘The Jungle Book’ full circle and could be the only negative aspect of the film.
Overall, I say give ‘The Jungle Book’ your all as soon as you can, it’s a thrilling ride and as close as you can get to Disney without going to a park. 3-D was a delight, and I would imagine that IMAX would be that much better. I would have loved to have been in the recording studio with Bill Murray and Christopher Walken as they executed two classic Disney songs with their own style and flavor, a personal highlight that might be yours too. See it in cinemas while you can, take the whole family. It’s worth every cent.