Review by CJ
Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba
Other notable appearances:
Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling, Jon Favreau, Sam Raimi, Russell Peters
Watch this if you liked:
The Jungle Book (1967), Robin Hood (1973), Cinderella (2015)
Orphaned man-cub Mowgli (Sethi) is rescued by black panther Bagheera and adopted by a wolf pack. Several years later, tiger Shere Khan (Elba) returns to the hunting grounds and finds Mowgli during a time of peace. As the time for peace draws to a close Bagheera must return Mowgli to the man village before Shere Khan kills the man-cub. Unfortunately for Bagheera, not everything in the jungle is as it seems.
Although I love Disney movies, The Jungle Book (1967) has never been one of my favourite animated Disney films. I enjoy it but it’s not one of my go to films when I need a Disney fix. As a result, I wasn’t particularly excited about seeing The Jungle Book until I saw the trailer and realised Bill Murray was voicing papa bear Baloo. If there is a film in which Bill Murray is not wonderful, I haven’t seen it.
Murray’s portrayal of everyone’s favourite sloth bear is one of many stellar voice performances in The Jungle Book. Johansson is hypnotic as the sly snake Kaa. Walken adds an almost gangster like deviousness to King Louie. Elba joins the likes of Jeremy Irons as the latest in a line of silky smooth voiced Disney villains. Kingsley voices Bagheera perfectly with the right amounts of regiment and empathy.
In amongst all of the CG characters voiced by a-list actors is Neel Sethi. The Jungle Book is Sethi’s full length feature debut and he knocks it out of the park.
The CGI in The Jungle Book is outstanding. I wanted to pet Bagheera, snuggle in Baloo’s fur and steer clear of Ikki the porcupine. Every creature and CG effect in the film is beautifully and painstakingly created to ensure suspension of disbelief. Assuming that, like me, you can suspend disbelief of talking animals.
The soundtrack to The Jungle Book is lots of fun. Classics like ‘The Bare Necessities’, ‘I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)’ and ‘Trust In Me (The Python Song)’ sung by Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and Scarlett Johansson respectively tie the new film to its predecessor beautifully. Even though Johansson’s song primarily features during the credits. Sadly the soundtrack is not yet available on Australian iTunes. As soon as it is, I will be buying it.
Speaking of the credits — it is definitely worth sticking around for them. There are little animated sequences that aren’t earth shattering but are cute and funny.
If you enjoyed the original Jungle Book then rest assured that the live-action remake does it justice. If you haven’t seen the original but are looking for a great film for yourself or to take the kids to see, then look no further. Though keep in mind the PG rating for a tiger trying to eat a small boy or, as the authorities put it, “mild threats and violence, some scenes may scare young children”.
“Come on, Mowgli. Let’s be on our way.”
“But I’m helping Baloo get ready for hibernation.”
“Bears don’t hibernate in the jungle.”
“Not full hibernation, but I nap a lot.”