“The Jungle Book” (2016) – Review
Written by J. Johnson
As the years are passing by you hearing some huge announcements considering the Disney collection of stories that has been built upon generations being captivated by the morals and lessons it provided. It’s like you can practically feel the beating heart of the jungle in Jon Favreau’s stunning adaptation of “The Jungle Book”, which is easily the most visually dazzling movie to hit theaters this year. From the thrill of a distant waterfall to the terror of a mudslide or stampeding buffalo, Favreau and his visual effects maestros have created artificial living things that truly take your breath away.
This live action interpretation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale takes the CGI aspects to new heights much like “Avatar”. It’s a momentous occasion in the technical advancements of big budget cinema. You feel the natural communication in the animals as they speak English with their breathing and emoting. The tenderness of mama wolf Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) doesn’t get sanitized to be cute or less threatening either.
The basic principles of animals necessity in hyperrealism noticeable when Favreau and his team raise the intensity up a few notches. Picture how intense the visuals are when the tension is created by the fact that it has claws and teeth and instinct to contend with throughout the movie. When you have an antagonist that adamantly believes humans should not be living among them and is prepared to use whatever intimidation tactics deemed necessary to rid their world Mowgli. Shere Khan is that antagonist which is perfectively voiced by Idris Elba it’s both terrifying and relatable. Mowgli is then, sent on a journey to the human village with a wise panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), along the way (if you can remotely remember) he encounters like the snake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), the bear Baloo (Bill Murray), and the orangutan King Louie (Christopher Walken).
The array of famous actors will distract you just a bit from scene to scene — each doing a great job, especially Murray who brings a much-needed comedic lightness to the story with his affably conniving Baloo.
Sethi is energetic and enthusiastic as Mowgli — an adventurous kid who’s as unfazed by a handful of bee stings as he is a gargantuan snake. But for all the attention to detail, there’s an unnatural modernity to the dialogue he’s given that can be trying at times. For the most part, he blends in as well as the sole human among wild CG animals could possibly be expected to.
Nostalgia kicks in as Murray makes “The Bear Necessities” fits into his laid-back existence as he hums and sings the song with Mowgli as they float down a serene river. “I Wanna Be Like You”, didn’t make too much sense as it came off as an awkward and clumsy moment which takes all the impact out of the crucial climax.
Indeed, much of the third act feels more like a checklist than plot advancement, and the emotional arc neither lives up to its source material nor the beauty of the visuals. Still, it is one of the stronger of Disney’s live-action adaptations and executed with such sincerity and technical prowess and inspiring ingenuity that it is more promising than anything else — a true family-friendly adventure that’s smart and often thrilling.