I have never been a massive fan of The Jungle Book, or any of the Disney Live Action Remakes (apart from Alice in Wonderland), so really I was quite apprehensive and reluctant to go and see this one. As I have been constantly thinking why Disney would want to recreate a universally acclaimed musical masterpiece of the 1967 Jungle Book – which happened to be the last film to get Walt Disney’s own personal touch? Surely this will be similar to remakes before it, the old-fashioned animation is left behind for the new and hyperreal CGI, whilst losing most of the musical elements and abandoning segments of the story.
However, this was to my surprise, a simply beautiful and immersive story which helped to revive the spirit of the original Disney classic. Mowgli is played by the young Neel Sethi, which happened to be his debut into acting; Ben Kingsley voices Bagheera the panther; Idris Elba is the tiger Shere Khan; Scarlett Johansson is the hissing snake mesmerist Kaa; Christopher Walkden is the voice of King Louie the fire-hungry ape and inevitably – but very amusingly – Bill Murray is an outstanding vocal turn as the notorious slacker and pleasure-seeker Baloo the bear who teaches Mowgli the importance of enjoying the bare necessities of life. Whilst including a new plot concerning the wolf-leader Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) and Shere Khan – whilst creating a backstory for Mowgli, which has not been conveyed as well before.
As you can tell with the names listed above, this was a wonderful voice cast and actors. Each actor fitted their role perfectly, making the animals appear more persuasive, even though they were digitally rendered. Murray was especially spectacular as Baloo, as he provided further depth and comedy for an already beloved Disney character. Additionally, Sethi was a brilliant casting decision, as he provided great comedic pairing for Murray, whilst being able to maintain his own. I have a feeling that this young boy will go far in acting – with a bit more practice of course.
I was also aware that this would not be a musical live-action adaptation similar to the films before it, therefore I was apprehensive about the musical choices and the use of the famous songs. Obviously it would not be a real Jungle Book story without those! However, The Bare Necessities, I Wan’na Be Like You and Trust In Me, fitted into the story with ease. However, I do feel that this was only effective as Richard M. Sherman wrote the revised lyrics, and included and extra verse, for Walkden’s version, whilst having John Debney (composer and conductor) working on songs and musical score. Nevertheless, it provided a connection to the 1967 classic, which was needed. Additionally, the film also emphatically revived Kipling’s poem ‘The Law of the Jungle’ with the collective all-for-one ethic – a nice reference to the books.
The only disappointments that I did have with the film are the lack of vultures. Even though they are present throughout the film, I would have liked a little nod to the classic film even if it were for a brief scene. Similar to this, I could not understand why the elephants could not speak. The elephant scene in the original is one of my personal favourites, so I was disappointed that they did not reference this.
I did find it quite interesting too, that the originals film sticks to a never-the-twain-shall-meet attitude to humans’ long-term cohabitation with animals, whereas this posts the idea of living together in harmony. I do think that this sacrifices the bittersweet acknowledgment that Mowgli must one day grow up and become a man.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I will definitely be buying it on DVD when it is released.
Have you seen The Jungle Book (2016) yet? If so what did you think? Let us know by leaving a comment, or sending us a message on twitter @ejh92x
CYA LATER ALLIGATORS
(Pictures Copyright: Disney)