Reviewed by: James Graves
Disney’s winning streak continues with the 2016 remake/reboot of the 1967 classic. I will try to keep this review short as I believe everyone for the most part is familiar with the Rudyard Kipling Tale.
Director Jon Favreau should be commended with what he did with this movie and he did a lot. One of the most impressive things about the movie is how it was shot and filmed. If you have seen the trailer then you already know that the movie relies heavily on CGI and other special effects. Neel Sethi the actor who played Mowgli was literally the only actor on set.
All the voice actors recorded their lines in the comfort of a Studio while this young man was putting in work in front of a green screen, swinging from ropes, and rolling around in piles of mud. All of this comes together very well as after two viewing’s I never really thought about this fact while watching and thoroughly enjoying the movie. Visually the movie is outstanding, I watched it twice in IMAX-3d and it was absolutely breathtaking.
Everything from the Jungle to the animals and some of the background structures come across extremely realistic and The Jungle Book is right up there with Toy Story and other movies that are recognized for fantastic visual effects and CGI.
Now to be fair it’s been quite some time since I’ve watched the original animated movie so I will try to keep comparison’s to a minimum. However, one of the aspects of the 2016 version that stood out to me the most is how Mowgli is portrayed. The 2016 Jungle Book almost goes out of the way to establish that this kid has never known Man and has been raised in the jungle his whole life.
His interaction with the wolves was probably the biggest contributor to this. Early scenes with the wolf pack have aspects of sibling rivalry, nagging parents, and thoughts of being a family outcast. These dynamics help sell that Mowgli is in fact a child of the jungle and makes his decisions later in the movie more believable.
The story for the most part plays out exactly the same and to avoid spoilers I don’t want to go to into but there are enough differences between the 2016 Reboot and the 1967 version to make it a worthwhile trip to the theater.
The voice acting in this movie is top notch and the cast is easily one of the most impressive group of actors I’ve seen come together for a project. Some performances Stood out more than others. The three that had the most memorable performances in my opinion belong to Ben Kingsley’s Bagherra, Idris Elba’s Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken as King Louie. I actually love what Walken did with Louie as he kept the feel of Louie from the animated movie but also strikes you as the “head of a Mob boss or Mafioso” type of character.
Elba’s Shere Khan was scene stealing as whenever he shows up on screen all focus is on him as it should be. Shere Khan’s first two appearances alone instill in the audience that this character is highly menacing, dangerous, and should not be trifled with. Bill Murray’s Baloo was okay it didn’t make me feel anything it sounded like Bill Murray voicing a bear and it was not a bad performance by any means so I don’t want anyone to read this as a knock on his performance.
The only character I was actually disappointed in was Kaa voiced by Scarlett Johansen. Like Murray it wasn’t a bad performance just leaves a little to be desired and almost comes across as seductive more so than hypnotizing which in itself is an issue especially in a family movie.
Altogether the 2016 Jungle Book is a highly entertaining movie and I would easily suggest to anyone with families or as a date movie.
The movie does in on a different note than the original but based on the story Jon Favreau weaves in this movie I definitely think it fits and is a satisfying ending to Mowgli’s Journey.