The Jungle Book – Review

19th April 2016 Off By Paul Barclay

In recent times, Disney have started to create live action versions of some of their most beloved films. Starting with Alice In Wonderland, they then released Maleficent and, more recently, Cinderella. With many more to come, including Beauty And The Beast and Pete’s Dragon, it seems these are here to stay. With this, we have their current release, a new version of classic tale The Jungle Book. Does it succeed in remaking a classic?

This new version of The Jungle Book is directed by Jon Favreau, whose previous films include Elf, Iron Man and Cowboys Vs Aliens, and is the story of Mowgli, the man-cub who is raised by a wolf pack in the jungle. He is forced to leave the jungle due to the threat of the menacing tiger Shere Khan. On his journey, he encounters the characters we all love, such as Baloo and King Louie.

The most important part of this movie and where it would live or die is how well the animal characters are realised. If they were not believable, the film would fail immediately.

Thankfully, this is not an issue. The CGI used for the animals is stunning throughout and really helps bring these characters to life. Of course, the CGI is only half the job.

The other side of these characters having a level of realism is the voice performances of the extremely talented cast. Whether it be Ben Kingsley as the stoic Bagheera or Christopher Walken as the mob boss like King Louie, the cast are strong throughout, with one exception.

Scarlett Johansson’s performance as the hypnotic snake Kaa lacks something and is a bit disappointing. It is just not snake-like enough. But, when it comes to the voice cast, special mention must be reserved for Bill Murray and Idris Elba. Murray’s role as the jovial, easy going bear Baloo is pretty perfect and gets the films best jokes. He is only out-performed by Elba, whose performance as the man hating tiger Shere Khan is amazing. A genuinely terrifying creation.

One thing to note is that the film is quite dark at times. While it is a PG, it is not recommended for very young children.

Shere Khan is a scary character and in the screening I attended, one young girl was extremely frightened by him and her parents had to take her out and not return. It is dark but never veers too far into darkness. It retains the Disney tradition of making family films with an element of darkness.

The rest of the film, whether it be music, directing or the performance of young Neel Sethi as Mowgli, is very well done. It moves at a steady pace, never slowing down or losing focus. It has an aim and heads towards it while remaining entertaining and thrilling throughout. All in all, if Disney can keep up this level of quality with their live action movies, then I, for one, can not wait.