Disney’s latest live-action remake of their animated classics of the past has arrived. But how wild is The Jungle Book?
This animation in this movie is stellar. The animators put in some real effort in animating everything from the tiny raindrops on Raksha’s quivering, furry chin to the thick, twisting brambles in the deepest parts of the jungle.
Disney’s animators have always had the reputation of doing painstaking work to bring their animated subjects to life: be it snow, water, or lions. Well, the animators for this movie must have watched a ton of nature documentaries or spent a lot of time at the zoo.
Bagheera’s movements are so fluid and so feline. Everytime Bagheera was on-screen, I would just watch his shoulders sway back and forth as he stalked along. Likewise, Baloo’s movements felt heavy and labored. I could almost feel Baloo’s steps as he sauntered along.
Even the fights between the animals felt real! Really stellar animation with this one.
King Louie is HUGE!!
King Louie is just massive. I loved it. While watching the movie, I leaned over to my wife and whispered “Is this a real-life animal?” Turns out, the species of ape that Louie is is a real animal, but it is sadly extinct… This one goes out to you, Gigantopithecus.
Not Your Daddy’s Ending
I always hated the ending of the original Jungle Book. Mowgli goes all lovestruck when he sees a pretty girl and totally ditches his best friends! Even as a kid, I was like “Mowgli. Come on, dude!”
Thankfully, Jon Favreau corrects the ending with a new ending and I like it. I won’t spoil it for you here, but suffice it to say, I think it fits better.
“I Want To Be Like You” Was Really, Really Out of Place
This may have been my biggest problem with The Jungle Book. The original, animated Jungle Book had a lot of great songs and this movie more than tipped their hats in homage to the musical numbers of the original film, but I think that was the worst thing for this movie to do. “Bear Necessities” and “I Want To Be Like You” just didn’t fit with the feel of the rest of the movie. The rest of the movie was surprisingly dark and the animals were lifelike and savage. Why would they sing songs?!
Baloo and Mowgli singing “Bear Necessities” to each other wasn’t completely out of place, but I wish the movie makers had decided to stick with Baloo’s subtle whistling and humming of the tune. That would have been a sweet callback without completely removing the audience from the feel of the movie.
Now, “I Want To Be Like You”… God bless Christopher Walken, but the man is not a singer. The song played more like a disjointed spoken word rhythm. While it’s fun listening to Walken talk, it just didn’t fit and wasn’t necessary. You’re in this ancient temple with this giant ape, surrounded by his monkey army and all of a sudden this jazz beat comes in and this ape starts singing to you. I think a better option would have been for Walken’s Louie to drop some dialogue from the song. Another subtle reference to the animated film’s musical themes.
Shere Khan Is One BAD Tiger
In the animated Jungle Book movie, Shere Khan had a wonderfully deep and rumbling voice. The casting of Idris Elba to be Shere Khan is wonderful. I’m really liking all this Idris Elba in recent films. I hope it’s a trend that continues.
Shere Khan is brutally cunning and cunningly brutal. However, I wanted him to be even more villainous. I know that this is a children’s film, but still… Scar was a really bad dude. Maleficent is a really bad dude. I wanted Shere Khan to be really bad dude.
At the end of the movie, Shere Khan kind of got relegated to a simplistic villainy. “I killed your dad and now I’ll kill you.” I wanted his motivation to be a little deeper than a simple revenge story. There was one beautiful scene where Shere Khan told a group of wolf cubs the story of the cuckoo bird. That story being that a cuckoo bird lays her eggs in another bird’s nest and tricks the other bird into carrying for the cuckoo hatchling. Eventually, the other hatchlings die off and only the cuckoo is left and “all because the mother cared too much for a child that wasn’t hers.” He tells all this while the wolf mother looks on, helpless to act. I just wish the movie had explored the savage genius of Shere Khan further.
Neel Seethi plays Mowgli and is the only live actor in the film. He’s a cute kid and may very well have a nice career ahead of him. The supporting cast of animals and their voices are were the real star power comes in with credited cast such as Ben Kingsley, Billy Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, and Lupita Nyong’o. It’s a really stellar cast full of memorable voices.
The movie was scored by John Debney, who did Iron Man 2, Sin City, and The Emperor’s New Groove. As I already mentioned above, The Jungle Book drew heavily from the musical themes of its animated predecessor. “Bear Necessities” and “I Want To Be Like You” were the only two singing numbers, but the rest of the soundtrack drew from the animated musical themes as well. The melody of “Bear Necessities” is played on strings more than once and I immediately recognized the opening number as being the same opening number from the animated film.
This is a kid movie. It’s made for kids. However, there are numerous jump scares and the scene with Kaa is more than a little creepy and scary. Shere Khan and Louie are also pretty creepy. Consider leaving younger children or those that are prone to nightmares at home for this one.
The Jungle Book is a good movie. It’s nothing too special and while I think lots of kids will like it, I don’t think it will be on anybody’s Top 10 List. A solid voice acting cast and stellar animation are counterbalanced by out-of-place song numbers and a villain that falls short of three-dimensional.
I give The Jungle Book a grade of…
Are you still planning on seeing The Jungle Book? I recommend it. It’s a good family film. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and subscribe for movie reviews in the future!