Review 119: The Jungle Book (2016)
I loved the animated Jungle Book as a kid. I love Bill Murray. I’m a big fan of Jon Favreau so of course I was looking forward to this live action adaptation. It took a few days in order to get to the theater, but I finally did. I really enjoyed parts of this movie, but there were a few things that got on my nerves a bit. However, The Jungle Book still has enough great elements keeping it in the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
The Jungle Book summary
The man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) flees the jungle after a threat from the Shere Khan (Idris Elba). Guided by Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and Baloo (Bill Murray), Mowgli embarks on a trip out of the jungle to save his wolf family and find his people.
The CGI in this movie is amazing. The voice acting by Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, and the now late Garry Shandling is really well done. I went in expecting Bill Murray to be my favorite as Baloo was my favorite in the animated version and I love Bill Murray, but Kingsley won me over. Bagheera is a strong character and Kingsley’s voice fits perfectly.
Idris Elba stands out as much as Kingsley though, as Shere Khan is an intimidating villain and his portrayal works well. There is a scene where Khan walks into the wolves den and just lays down. It’s so arrogant and yet demonstrates the amount of power he wields that he can walk into someone else’s home and just sit wherever he likes. Elba’s performance definitely worthy of the character.
That’s not to say Bill Murray and Christopher Walken weren’t also great, but I expected to enjoy them as I love their characters. Both get to sing and do a pretty great job with the beloved songs from my childhood. Although, I definitely preferred Murray’s “The Bear Necessities” over Walken’s “I wanna be like you.” I thought making King Louie so big was a mistake, however, it turns out he is based on an extinct primate called Gigantopithecus, which Louie states in the film.
Jon Favreau did a fantastic job with this film. The chase scenes are action packed and the pacing of the film is spot on. The animal casting is great and I thought some of the changes made from the animated film were pretty well done. However, I’m not sure I liked his casting of Mowgli.
It is Sethi’s first feature film and for the most part he does a decent job. However, I’ve come to respect Favreau’s casting choices and after Chef I even trust his child actor selections. Sethi often annoyed me more than he entertained me. He was definitely acting and, in this case, it wasn’t a good thing.
Despite not being 100% convinced that Sethi did a good enough job as Mowgli, the film was definitely a spectacle…in a goodway. I saw it in 2D, but I kind of wish I’d splurged and caught it in IMAX. The visuals in the film are amazing and I think they’d have been even more spectacular on the giant IMAX screen.