After the success of Disney’s first live action film Cinderella, the studio returns for its second crack at remaking its classics with The Jungle Book. With a darker emphasis this time around, the re-imagined tale is a visually impressive, intelligently written film that surpasses the cartoon in many ways. With a great performance from Mogley (Neel Sethi) to back it up, The Jungle Book is a visual marvel.
The story stays pretty close to the original cartoon and follows man-cub Mowgli who’s raised by wolves but finds he’s no longer welcome when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) declares him a threat to the animals he controls. Guided by panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and free-spirited bear Baloo (Bill Murray), Mowgli sets out on a journey to try and find his own place in the world full of animals. Its a story with good pacing and one that wisely doesn’t deviate too far from the cartoon and book its based on.
With the vast majority of the film shot on a blue screen with little Mowgli alone acting among imaginary animals, his portrayal of the man-cub is outstanding and most importantly believable. It really helps give weight to the well-voiced animals inhabiting the world . The animation is just simply incredible and whether it be the lush jungle terrain or the individual hairs on the animals that blow realistically in the wind, its hard to believe this was all done through computer animation.
Of course, a great script accompanies the impressive visuals and its here that the film shines. There’s just enough originality in this film to set it apart from the cartoon whilst sticking to the familiar formula to not alienate anyone and Disney have absolutely perfected the formula here. Its a charming family adventure full of thrills and tense moments. Whether it be the hypnotising, seductive python deep in the jungle or Mowgli running alongside a mud-spattered stampede away from Shere Khan in the rain, every scene is painted perfectly with a great use of colour and animation. Its an absolute joy to watch this reimagined tale come to life.
In many ways it surpasses the cartoon but the inclusion of a few songs, although jarring, are used to good effect here to disguise somewhat their disjointed inclusion in the film that detracts from the dark tone it holds throughout. It could be argued that perhaps the climax to the film is a little disappointing too and wrapped up a little too quicky and happily given the circumstances but its a minor gripe and to be honest, is barely noticeable in this family-friendly feature.
Overall, The Jungle Book is a fine remake and one that absolutely justifies its creation. With Mowgli the lone actor on set for vast stretches of the film, it makes it even more impressive that we get such a great visual marvel and the animation is second to none. With a respectful appreication of the cartoon and the book, The Jungle Book draws heavily on the past success of its cartoon counterpart and its justified on this showing. The film is simply one of the best family friend films this year and arguably one that deserves an Oscar based on its visual effects and CGI work alone.
- Verdict - 8.5/108.5/10