These Disney live action remakes of their animated classics are weird. I get them, but I’m not overly sure if I like them, or at least not until I saw The Jungle Book. This one kind of works.
Unlike most of recent Disney remakes, this one actually sticks pretty close to the original story, minus a few aspects. It’s pretty much The Jungle Book you know and love from your childhood. Bagheera and Baloo keeping Mowgli safe from Shere Khan. Which I guess kind of begs the question, was this remake even necessary?
I think in a way, it does feel fresh, the biggest selling point being the heavy blend of CGI and live action footage. You couldn’t have made this film five years ago; it would have looked really naff. For the most part now it actually looks really good. There is a kind of digital sheen over the whole film but some of the characters are very photorealistic. Shere Khan looks like a tiger, in fact he looks so real that he is just as scary in this film as I remember him being in the animated film when I was about 5. There are the odd minor characters or little one off animals that walk in and out of the frame that look a little more digital than some, but for the most part you lose yourself in this world without noticing the seams.
The film boasts a very impressive voice cast, some of them more genius then others, Idris Elba as Shere Khan and Bill Murray as Baloo being the standouts. The one thing I was worried about the most was, would you believe these realistic looking animals could talk but thankfully you do, the voice work is very solid. The one hiccup of the film, and I hate to nit-pick a child’s performance, is Neel Sethi as Mowgli. Child actors are always hit or miss and it is such a shame that for the most part here, he is not that convincing. Movement is fine, he does make you forget that these animals weren’t actually there, but whenever he said a line of dialogue I did not believe a word he said.
Pacing wise the film moves along pretty swiftly and doesn’t slow too much. Tonally it is a lot more serious; however in the second act it does struggle with whether it should be a musical or not which was a little weird. One of the songs is worked in well, another not so much... The soundtrack overall though was great and really works to add to your emotional reaction.
Overall it’s a good film which is very visually pleasing. It has its problems but for the most part it’s enjoyable and a film your kids will be sure to enjoy, however do be warned that Shere Khan is very scary, even as an adult I was little bit on edge around his scenes but he really is the standout performance and character of the film. I am rating The Jungle Book a 3.5/5.
Have you seen the film? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!