By Aric Sweeny
The Jungle Book (Review)
Cast: Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha), Giancarlo Esposito (Akela), Christopher Walken (King Louie), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa). Click here to see the full cast list.
Synopsis: “Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he's ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.”
Jon Favreau is on fire. Hot off the feel-good, low budget “Chef”, he now brings us “The Jungle Book”, the reimagined classic fit for today’s audience. And what a great job he did. In many years to come, I have no doubt in my mind that this film will be considered groundbreaking when it comes to CGI. If you didn’t know already, the film has no practical effects whatsoever. Besides Mowgli, the entire film is computer generated. The best part? You couldn’t tell. Unlike most films, which have a few rough patches of CGI along the way, this film had nothing negative in that department; not even a nitpick.
Getting away from the visuals, though, I have to acknowledge the brilliant voice casting. From the hilarious King Louie to the downright terrifying Shere Khan, every actor did a great job with his or her role. Who would’ve thought that Bill Murray would get outshined by at least 3 other actors?
I’ll be honest; I wasn’t a huge fan of Neel Sethi’s acting as Mowgli towards the beginning, but it grew on me a lot throughout the course of the movie. The fact that this young actor had to give his performance solely in front of a green screen and without any other actors around him is pretty insane, especially considering how solid of a performance it was. Not only was Mowgli acted well, but Sethi also looks exactly like the character from the original animated film, which is evidently a result of hard work from the casting directors.
Another positive about the film is the detail put into jungle itself. The placement of quirky and interesting looking animals helps set the atmosphere and tone, something that many animated films nowadays seem to get wrong.
A near perfect film, “The Jungle Book” is a worthy remake of the 1967 classic that will leave Disney fans extremely satisfied and entertain general moviegoers time and time again.
Rating: 4.5/5 STARS