Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken
Director: Jon Favreau
Length and Rating: 1hr 45min PG
Disney had been slowly over the past few years taken their beloved animated films that were released before the new millennium and have made them into live action films such as, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and now The Jungle Book. With these live action adaptations most of the audience members know the story they are investing time into, so the goal for these films is to try to tell the stories that everyone knows but in new way so people don’t get bored. How do you do that? Well, just do everything this movie did.
You know the story, or at least everyone who grew up with Disney’s 1967 animated version does. Man-cub Mogli (newcomer Neel Sethi) with the help of his panther companion Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) must leave the jungle and head to the human village in order to escape the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba). You run into all the characters from the previous version: King Louis (Christopher Walken), Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), and the best bear around Baloo (Bill Murray).
From the beginning shots of this film you are completely pulled into the scenery and animals of this world (especially if you saw the 3D version). The special effects in this movie were all I heard about it going into it, about how amazing they were and how the actor who played Mogli is the lonely real thing. And the reason why people are talking so much about it is because it’s 100% true; the special effects are unreal. The animals look so real and you could swear that they are, if it wasn’t for the fact that all these amazing actors voice them. The jungle itself changes too, depending on what part Mogli stumbles into and who inhabits that area.
The actors that were voicing these characters were perfect matches for one another. Idris Elba’s Shere Khan was terrifying and sure to be in the nightmares of kids. Every time the tiger came onto the screen that’s were all your focus goes. It’s his deep voice tied in with the stalking movements of the animal that gives the scene an anxious feeling. You never know when he is going to pounce. On the other side you have everybody’s favourite Bill Murray has the best bear side kick around. For kids who do not know the actor they will still love him, but for the adults that do I feel they’ll love him even more, it’s the definition of a perfect casting.
There are scenes in this film that are taken right out of the animated version, shot for shot, making this reviewer’s heart melt. Whether it’s hand made drawing or computed generated special effects, the tone and feeling that you get watching this story does not differ between the two. With so many films coming out being remakes there is this notion that people have of it not being able to compete with the original, and normally the original version of something as an association of being what you watched growing up. For kids that have never seen the animated version, this is what they will grow up with. But has a fan of the animated The Jungle Book this live action adaptation is exactly that, a great live version adaptation. It includes the heart of the story.
“Look for the bare necessities, The simple bare necessities, Forget about your worries and your strife”
– Baloo, Bill Murray (Just imagine a big bear being voiced by Bill Murray singing this song… yes, it’s that great)