I admit I didn’t have high hopes for Disney’s reboot of an already brilliant movie, after all, they did it right the first time! But this movie is a delightful surprise. It pays homage to its predecessor, distancing itself in some aspects by not trying to be a complete remake, but also acknowledging loving memories we adults have of watching The Jungle Book as children.
I’m crediting a huge part of The Jungle Book’s success on the sublime CGI work that brings the jungle and its inhabitants to life. It is a visually spectacular movie. It amazes me what people can create out of nothing these days. Children will definitely be mesmerised by all the rich colours, shapes and authenticity the film brings.
Also, amazing voice work by all the actors! Mostly well cast, even though I’m not sure if I’m completely sold on Christopher Walken as King Louie. Don’t get m,e wrong, I was pumped that he was in it, his voice is fantastic and he’s a good actor; but I’m not sure if he was right for this particular part. I didn’t hate him, I just feel like self-proclaimed King Louie, a huge orangutang, needed a deeper, domineering and self assured voice.
Also, I felt slightly ripped off that Scarlett Johansen was so heavily advertised for being in this movie, even though she actually appeared on screen for all of five minutes – and this isn’t the first time this has happened; I’m looking at you “Hail Caesar.”
Although The Jungle Book is pitched as a kids’ movie, it’s definitely darker then I think most people expect. There are some threatening scenes and mild violence that some children might not handle well, but if your kids can hold out for the ending, the amount of beauty and heart this film produces will be unforgettable.
Honestly, I feel a little silly admitting that I expected a play-by-play live action version of the animated classic – exactly the same characters, songs, story line and fun, light-hearted feel – just brought to life with modern day technology. But Mowgli’s journey took unexpected turns, leaving me feeling slightly jarred. Eventually, I accepted that this film stands alone as a modern retelling that pays its respects to the original words of Rudyard Kipling and the original and beloved Disney classic.
If you loved the musical numbers of the old animation, then you will be pleased to know that some have been included, though I would expect solely to evoke nostalgia among older viewers. Although I did love those musical numbers more than anything, I believe the movie could still flow without them. Having said that, for me, it just wouldn’t have been The Jungle Book without the Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You.
I didn’t expect much from this movie, considering Hollywood’s history of remakes, but it definitely beat all my expectations. It made me want to watch the original again and remember how much I loved The Jungle Book as a kid watching it on VHS. Hopefully this film will be loved by the new generation as much as the animated version was loved by mine and so many before me.
*** 3 + 1/2 stars