Directed by Jon Favreau
Mowgli (Neil Sethi)
Bagheera (Ben Kingsley)
Baloo (Bill Murray)
Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o)
King Louie (Christopher Walken)
Kaa (Scarlett Johansson)
Sher Khan (Idris Elba)
Disney’s live adaptation of their animated classic is a classic in itself.
Right out of the gates, I knew this was going to be special. Instead of Disney’s modern logo of a 3D model of Cinderalla’s castle, this movie opened with the old-school logo that opened the animated movie.
Now I can’t really judge the story of this movie because it’s an adaptation of an older version of itself, but there are two things to note. When Mowgli is in King Louie’s temple, the song that ensues really doesn’t fit in with the tone of that scene, and the delivery of the number was a bit shaky too. It’s lifted directly from the animated movie, but it could have been avoided. But a positive is that the movie ends slightly differently than the animated movie, which was actually a welcome change.
What I mentioned above is the only negative I have about this movie. Everything else was perfect. It’s longer than the animated movie, and so it has a lot more heart, and when I say that, I mean a lot more. There’s so much more of a connection with this. Neil Sethi had a really tough task of communicating with things that weren’t actually there, and for a ten year old, he did a spectacular job of it. I think that’s one of the reasons this movie had tons of weight – Because Mowgli was a deeper, more human character.
Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray, although great separately, have actual chemistry with each other as the two main animal protagonists, and I respect how much more fleshed out Baloo’s character is in this film. There’s even a little character arc that he has. Bagheera isn’t as sarcastic as he is in the animated movie, but he makes for an amazing father figure to Mowgli, despite having some character flaws of his own.
King Louie and Kaa are in the movie for one scene each, which I don’t really consider a spoiler. Both of them were a bit dodgy. Johansson’s voice acting didn’t really click at the start but got better as it progressed, and Christopher Walken was okay, although I do think someone else could have done a better job.
Sher Khan. Wow. He really is a character in this film. He has reason, he has menace, he has charisma, he has an aura around him. This is partially because of great writing, but Idris Elba is by far my favourite voice actor in this movie, which is really saying something. He encompassed Sher Khan so beautifully, and the range of emotion and tone in his voice was incredible. He makes this movie something big, and I also think he’d be a reason for this movie to not be suitable for younger children.
Now I haven’t even got to the best part of this movie. Jon Favreau was the perfect choice to direct this movie (let’s pretend Iron Man 2 never happened) because he can take something small and make it enormous. Not by scale, but by weight. That’s important in a film like this. He focused on the little details to make the jungle really come to life. This is one of the most beautifully looking movies I have ever seen. The visual aesthetics, the CGI, the cinematography, all of it just blends together to make the perfect mixture. Scenes transition with different animals, showing how life is in the jungle and how different beings co-exist, and all the animals that are computer generated seem so real that it’s all live-action. The scenery is so detailed that even mist isn’t overlooked. The attention to detail is sublime. Little things like that show dedication to the art of film and to the source material. That just has to be appreciated. I was in awe for the whole movie at how spectacularly framed it is, and most filmmakers can learn from this kind of raw beauty.
It was such a complete experience.
On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating:
The Jungle Book: MIHIR