The Jungle Book (2016)

2:48 PM

The Legend Will Never Be The Same
This review contains minor spoilers
The Jungle Book is directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Chef) and introduces Neel Sethi alongside a voice cast made up of Bill Murray (Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters), Ben Kingsley (Shutter Island, Hugo), Scarlett Johansson (Avengers, Lucy), Idris Elba (Zootropolis, Luther), Lupita Nyong'o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 12 Years A Slave) and many others. "The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don't have his best interests at hear". The Jungle Book is Disney's next addition to its live action fairytale franchise...can it be as good? Does it add something different to the tale?

The Jungle Book really is a fantastic film. It is definitely of the superb quality of all of the Disney live action fairytales so far - even though it isn't my favourite, Maleficent still takes that. The Jungle Book is a huge step forward for technology in film - it shows how much you can do without having to do anything practically. The film is also a step forward for Hollywood as it actually casts someone of the right ethnicity for the lead role - unlike recent films such as Pan and Gods of Egypt, The Jungle Book gets it right. The Jungle Book is definitely a film you need to see - I am currently trying to plan to see it again but in 3D this time as I here its even better in 3D. The Jungle Book is dark, likeable, funny and full of nostalgia - it has all the necessities of a great film.

The feature that everyone is talking about surrounding this film is its visual effects and believe the hype because they are fantastic! It is mind-blowing to think that the film makers never left studios in LA - this was all created in the US! Some may call this lazy but I think this shows extra effort as the filmmakers have had to create a whole jungle without actually being there. The animals are also another thing - even though I found it troubling at first to see such realistic looking animals speak (which kind of emphasises how good the visuals are), it is spectacular seeing Mowgli interact with the creatures. Every scene in this film is like a screensaver - from the Buffalo stampede to Mowgli meeting Kaa - it is all fantastic. However, I did have one issue with the visuals which is when Mowgli is running through the field - there didn't seem to be much depth behind him which couldn't stop me from believing he was just in front of a screen. However, I do suspect this is something that may be helped with 3D. This is a step forward for visual effects - they've created a fantasy world in Avatar, we've been to space in Gravity and now we see a human interact with lifelike animals in The Jungle Book - mesmerising! 

The Jungle Book definitely captures the Disney magic. It has a running length of 100 minutes but it definitely does not feel that long at all - I didn't check the time once as I was so engrossed in the story and the world that the film had created. I haven't actually watched the animated version in a while so the story wasn't too clear in my mind before watching so it was like experiencing the story for the first time all over again. I thought the pacing was done really well - the film was filled with great character moments and great action moments. I liked how the 'Red Flower' was cleverly fit into the story and wasn't just something that was heavily mentioned - it actually tied in. I thought The Jungle Book was much darker than I was expecting - Shere Khan was terrifying and I was actually scared of what he might do to the characters. The plot was thoroughly entertaining and The Jungle Book was definitely a darker adaption and it works. The film is also very touching at moments - that moment where Mowgli saves the baby elephant especially. 

The talent involved in this film all do a fantastic job. Neel Sethi is another child actor that doesn't live up to the bad reputation that child actors have. Even though at times he wasn't 100% believable, considering Sethi is only 12 and the only human actor in the film - he does a fantastic job holding it all together. I think his unpolished performance is charming just like Daniel Radcliffe's performance as Harry Potter - it makes the character that little bit more likeable. Sethi is definitely a discovery that Disney will likely make the most of with future products (and they definitely should). I was very impressed with Idris Elba - at first, I thought he was just Idris Elba as a tiger but as the film went on, Elba was lost in his character and became the incredibly terrifying Shere Khan - Elba was fantastic and this has to be some of the best voice acting I have seen - Khan is also a refreshingly truly scary villain. I couldn't really believe Kingsley as Bageera at first either (it took me a while to get used to the talking animals in general) but Kingsley did a nice job. My second favourite voice (behind Elba) was Scarlett Johansson who I loved from the trailer - and her role doesn't get much bigger here - but I think she plays a fantastic Kaa and is very creepy. Even though each of the voice cast and actor have minor faults individually, as a whole, they work well fantastically - they bounce off of each other and they all help to create a masterpiece of a film. Disney really has got voice acting down to a tee with this and Zootopia - Finding Dory should be a treat. 

I would like to briefly mention the soundtrack to the film as the characters do sing a couple of times. I thought both performances were very good - I preferred Bear Necessities (of course) and thought that whole segment was fantastic. With the score in general, I really liked it - this was a big factor in the nostalgia as their were hints of the famous songs in the instrumental score. 

The Jungle Book is a spectacular film - it adds a darker level to the tale but thats what makes it a refreshing remake of the original - this will be The Jungle Book for todays generation. The only faults with the film are the visuals occasionally being a little off and Sethi's performance being sometimes a little forced (which I can easily forgive). However, these are outweighed by a generally fantastic performance from Sethi and a magnificent string of voice actors - stand outs are Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson. The Jungle Book sets the bars for visual effects in films from this point onwards. There are talk of sequels - even though this is a complete story to me, I definitely wouldn't mind exploring the fantastic world that Favreau has created (in an LA studio ;) ). The Jungle Book may not be my favourite film of the year so far but it is definitely the first must-see of the year. 

4 STARS
A-

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