Although we’ve already seen the live action version of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and the retelling of Sleeping Beauty, ‘Maleficent’ it was the remake of ‘Cinderella’ that really seemed to kick start the Disney live action remake machine. I was very impressed with ‘Cinderella’ and despite my doubts it worked very well in a live action format. However this could not settle my concerns about ‘The Jungle Book’ remake, a Disney movie made up almost entirely animals! How could this work in a live action format?
Well I’m pleased to say that it works very well as the animation is nothing short of incredible. I’ve always held the opinion that I’ve never seen better CGI than in the recent ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies but I may have to adjust that opinion now. ‘The Jungle Book’ is the kind of film that you could watch regardless of cast or story as a result of the stunning visuals, simply watching the animals walk through tall grass or swinging from tree vines is enough to stimulate you, the detail is unreal. The film managed to attract a very well known cast and this was probably my biggest worry for the film in recent weeks. I thought with such recognisable voices it would be hard to combine the voices and characters in a way that would make me think I was watching Baloo rather than Bill Murray for instance. I was somewhat right to be worried as at first I did find it hard not to separate character from performer but as the film progresses this does ease but with the constant visiting/bumping into other characters it was an issue that had to be overcome a few times. The standout voice performances for me had to be Ben Kingsley’s Bagheera and Idris Elba’s Shere Khan. Both actors were fantastic in these roles, especially Elba who has just starred ‘Zootropolis’ where he offered similar talents.
Now Disney isn’t Disney without a little sing song and ‘The Jungle Book’ certainly can’t hold that title without the bear necessities. The film does a great job of integrating the appropriate amount of musical moments into this version without making it a full on musical. It stays true to the original animation in this way whilst not being tied to it’s structure. There are a few narrative changes too, hardcore fans may find these irritating however the changes fit this version of the story and certainly don’t detract from its quality in any way. The film should be a treat for those hardcore fans and even those more casual viewers of the original. The opening moments of the film really brought the nostalgia flooding back for me and I felt like I was watching my own VHS version in my pajamas again probably at a similar age to what Mowgli is. Neel Sethi makes his lead role debut here as the jungle man-cub and he does a good job. There are times that it’s apparent that this is his first major role but the nature of the character allows for this meaning that Sethi showed great promise and fulfilled his role here well. I’m sure acting alongside animals that aren’t really there is a big enough challenge in itself so the youngster can be proud of his involvement.
Just like ‘Cinderella’, Disney and director Jon Favreau have done justice to the original animation released in 1967. It captures the essence of the animation whilst not being held back by every detail of the narrative. The film as a whole didn’t blow me away but what did was the beautiful animation and I’d reccomend ‘The Jungle Book’ based solely on that criteria. There is much else to be enjoyed here too though and its sure fire fun for all the family that should be experienced on the big screen.
Rating – 8/10
Question: Which of Disney’s Animated Classics do you want a live action remake of most?
(Leave your answers in the comments below!)
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