Directed by Jon Favreau
Based on the book The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Screenplay by Justin Marks
Starring: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken
Mowgli (Sethi) is a young boy raised by wolves and living in the jungle. As he comes of age he’s seeking to find out where he fits in. When a tiger named Shere Khan (Elba) threatens his life and the life of those he loves, Mowgli begins to learn who he is.
This is the most recent re-telling of the classic stories by Rudyard Kipling (The Man Who Would Be King). His works have been adapted into more than 100 films, shorts, and television episodes. This time the story was adapted by Justin Marks (Rewind), providing director Jon Favreau (Elf) with a script to work from. The film features a number of voice performances from stars like Ben Kingsley (The Confession), Idris Elba (Zootopia), Bill Murray (Moonrise Kingdom), Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers), and Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter). The young Neel Sethi (Diwali) provided his performance in both voice and body.
This is a classic story that doesn’t need much introduction for most audiences. The idea of a human child living with the beasts of the jungle is a good place to start. From there the movie follows the basic outline of the 1967 animated film The Jungle Book. The unique aspects of this story come with the little updates that Justin Marks made to the story. The dialogue is less childish and the action is often more intense. Additionally, this is not the musically driven animated film that I remember from my childhood. This is not going to surprise anyone who knows the animated version, at least not from a story perspective. Still, it’s a fun adventure film with some nice twists.
This film benefits from nice voice work by the entire cast. Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Scarlet Johansson, and Christopher Walken are just a few of the stars who bring some of the jungle beasts to life. Their work manages to capture the emotions of every moment, which must be challenging when it’s done in a booth and not on the set. That being said, my favorite performance came from Neel Sethi. His youthful energy is infectious throughout the entire movie. (This is likely a combination of his skill and nice direction by Favreau.) Overall, the actors did a nice job with this one.
This movie might as well be considered an animated feature due to the excessive amount of CGI necessary for making this one come to life. Luckily the work done for this film is excellent. The movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Additionally, the sound work does the right things to bring the jungle to life. Overall, this one looks good and sounds good.
This movie won’t surprise with the story, and the acting is limited to good voice work. The visuals, on the other hand, are worth seeing this one for. Fans of the stars might like to see their work in this fantastic world. I would also suggest this one to fans of the classic Disney animated films. I give this one 3.2 out of 5 stars.