Film Review: The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book (2016)
Directed by Jon Favreau

The beloved children’s classic is given new life with Disney’s live action revamp. Staring Neel Sethi, and featuring the voices of Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray, this epic adventure through the magic world of talking animals and haunting characters is not just a kids flick.

A young boy, Mowgli (Sethi), is raised by wolves, but his simple life is ripped apart by a vengeful tiger named Shere Khan (Elba) who seeks to kill Mowgli because he is a human— Shere is willing to kill anyone who stands in his way. Not wanting his wolf-pack to get hurt, Mowgli heads away into the jungle in search of a human settlement to join. Guided through the jungle by a panther named Bagheera (Kingsley), Mowgli encounters a series of wonderful and complex creatures. Teaming up with some, and fleeing epically from others, the film’s thrills revolve heavily around this journey and animal interactions.

Director Jon Favreau takes a much darker, scarier and grittier approach than that of the 1967 musical animation. The intense fight scenes, immersive sets, and witty dialogue bring a fresh take, not just in recreating the beloved film, but in rethinking the concept and original approach taken. In referencing the classic version, Favreau also adds a blockbuster atmosphere utilising camera angles seen in the original and giving them a fresh cut. Baloo (Murray) even sings the ‘Bear Necessities’ in a brand new way – not just mimicking Phil Harris’s version.

Favreau’s application of CGI, like his entire film, finds the perfect balance between realism and fantasy, linking human-like facial expressions with realistic animal movements. This, alongside beautiful cinematography and voice work, creates a fun and reimagined rebirth of a classic, respecting the masterpiece and adding something new to the table for the next generation.

Words by Scott Murphy

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