Jungle Book Review by Daniel Symons
By Daniel Symons
The Jungle Book, Disney’s retelling of their 1967 animated classic that bears the same name is still considered by many to be one of the best animated movies of all time. The name, however, originated as a series of short stories from 1893 to 1894, written by English author, Rudyard Kipling. With such a large legacy, this 2016 retelling had a lot to live up to.
It is my absolute pleasure to report that this might be the best adaptation of The Jungle Book, of all time!
So, what makes so good? To address the most apparent reason, the movie is incredibly beautiful. It may surprise some readers that non of the animals featured in the movie are real trained creatures, in fact most of the scenery in the movie isnt real either. It is all created using screen effects. You wouldn’t guess this however, as it looks so realistic. You feel like you can go up to the animals and stroke their fur! The CGI here is phenomenal, and the movie deserves praise for this.
However, not all the characters are fake, there is one live action performance, this being Neil Sethi, playing the role of the movie’s young protagonist Mowgli. Despite the fact that he was working with much older and more experienced actors, he gives one of the best performances in the film. Not only is it his first appearance in a movie, but he was acting to a green screen the whole time, meaning he would have to imagine the characters were there in order to react appropriately. Here John Favreau, the director, deserves a mention as he managed his young star perfectly, enabling him to act. Sethi delivers the exact right amount of emotion and gives the exactly the right reaction to each situation. There is a rare occasion where he does make a mistake and it does become fairly noticeable, but only if you are experienced with green screen films. But with all things considered, Sethi’s performance was excellent.
Sethi is not the only actor to deliver a great performance though, all actors in the film have clearly given all their effort into creating an accurate and interesting adaptation of their respected character. Most notable is Idris Elba as the movie’s main villain Sheer Khan, he is ferocious, intimidating and terrifying when on screen. His performance is the best in the film. Elba is the sole reason I believe this film should have been over a twelve, not PG. The amount of young children who left the theatre in fear, was staggering. Idris Elba was probably the main cause of this.
Elba is not only noticeable voice performance, both Bill Murray as Baloo, the Bear and Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, the panther, both deliver two of the greatest performances of all their careers.
Murray, to begin with, needed this to be a success, to revive his career after he started to fall in the early 2000s. It is my pleasure to suggest that this might be Murray’s best performance since Ghostbusters! Combined with the character’s excellent writing and Murray’s energetic and charismatic performance. Baloo becomes a terrific comedic character and a joy to watch. Equally, if Murray’s performance was great for comedic purposes, then Kingsley’s performance as Bagheera was phenomenal for the opposite reason. He was mature, sophisticated and a great parental figure. Kingsley was incredibly believable in the role, and you truly believe, that out of all the people who claim to be able to protect Mowgli, he is the only one who truly could.
Out of all the outstanding voice performances, not all of the actors received equal screen time. Both Christopher Walken as King Louie and Scarlet Johansen as Kaa ,were both limited to a sequence each within a movie. This is a bad thing, in Johansen’s case as in the trailers she is shown to be an important character. In the actual film she is used in just one scene as a narrator to explain Mowgli’s past. She is never seen or heard from again throughout the entire film. This unfortunate however, as as they both deliver astonishing performances. With Walken, in particular, you can tell he’s having fun in his role. If either Johansen or Walken had been allowed more screen time, they may have been able to rival Idris Elba (Sheer Khan) as the greatest performance.
To conclude, The Jungle Book is a fantastic piece of filmography which defied the odds to become one of the greatest adaptations the name as ever seen. It has fast paced and intense action, mixed with layered and emotionally deep characters. Something that is characteristic of Jon Favreau’s work. It has a great cast that all put life and energy into their respected characters, bringing the already fantastic CGI to life. Regarding the film rating, this is not a movie for small children. When I started watching the film, the cinema was packed with small children. By the end of the movie, most of them had left in fear.
I believe that there is only one word that can describe the movie:
(Or for those expecting a more conventional rating 9/10)