Title: The Jungle Book
Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito.
Director: Jon Favreau
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Drama, Disney, Adventure
In the past few years, we have been lucky enough to see some of the ol’ Disney favourites being remade and rejigged for a newer audience. Alice in Wonderland has, and is still having, the Tim Burton treatment, whilst Cinderella and our favourite baddie Maleficient have been given live-action counterparts and new movies to entrance audience back into the cinema seats. And when it was announced that they were going to be doing the same with The Jungle Book, I was so excited. As somebody with younger siblings, I’ve watched The Jungle Book a lot, and still find the story and songs as charming and whimsical as the day I first watched it. And as time passed, and a star-studded cast was announced to be playing my favourite animal roles, my excitement grew. And boy, did this film not disappoint.
Adapated from the 1894 collection of stories by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book tells the story of the orphaned Mowgli, who was raised from a very young age by a wolf pack in the jungle. Despite considering himself a wolf, and feeling right at home with his adoptive family, Mowgli’s life is turned upside when a threat from the fearsome and rengade tiger, Shere Khan, forces him to flee the jungle and join the human village. Assisted by his friends, Bagheera the panther and Baloo, the bear, Mowgli is sent on a journey of finding out who he is, and who is is capable of becoming.
What I love about this remake is despite going into the film already familiar with the plot, it never lost its magical feel. The original 1967 movie was the last time Walt Disney gave a movie his personal touch,, and there is something masterful about that film that spans generations. But this new version only updates this feeling. Gone is the old-fashioned animation, and it has been replaced with state-of-the art technology and CGI. The animals looked hyper real, and the songs (despite being radically cut down to only including ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wanna Be Like You’) feel natural and not just like another Disney musical. The story had relatively the same storyline, but with a new plot development including Shere Khan and the leader of the wolf pack, Akela, the film creates new and ingenous twists on the familiar story.Also, by using some of Kipling’s later stories, such as with the addition of the the Water Truce, along with The Law of the Jungle poem, it really gave the first part of the film a literary and emotional tie to Kipling.
The cast were utterly fantastic and fiting for the characters they spoke for, but what really stole the show for me was Idris Elba’s Shere Khan. The old villianous tiger has been reimagined to far more bloodthirsty and dangerous, and Elba’s smooth and sometimes arrogant tones really add something to the tiger. Both Scarlett Johansson, in her memorising portrayal of the nefarious Kaa, and Bill Murray for his rendition of the mellow ursine Baloo won high praise from me. Lupita Nyong’o’s gentleness and maternal warmth brings a dignity to Raksha, the mother wolf. And without the cool wisdom of seasoned thespian Ben Kingsley, Mowgli’s guide through the jungle, Bagheera the panther, would have fallen short.
But be warned, this film is not for children, or the faint hearted. Despite only being rated a PG, the film has got some dark points, and with the detail of the CGI, the animals feel more realistic. Tigers have become tigers, and not just cartoon characters. So, this isn’t going to be a film you take a six-year-old to see.
But all in all, a fantastic rendition of Disney’s classic masterpiece, and if this is anything to go by, I’m very excited to see what the next live-action adaptation is going to be like.
The Jungle Book is out now!