RELEASED 2016 RUNTIME 105 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION JON FAVREAU SCREENPLAY JUSTIN MARKS STARRING NEEL SETHI, BILL MURRAY, BEN KINGSLEY, IDRIS ELBA, LUPITA NYONG’O, SCARLETT JOHANSSON, GIANCARLO ESPOSITO, CHRISTOPHER WALKEN MUSIC JOHN DEBNEY
The Jungle Book is the 10th adaption (at least that’s what it feels like) of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.
Since comes from Disney it feels very much like a life-action remake of the 1967 Animation. So, if you know the animation you pretty much know the premise already. In case you don’t – Mowgli is a small baby child who gets stranded in the deep jungle of India without his parents. He gets found by a black panther, Bagheera, and taken to a pack of wolves which raise him as their own child.
He is accompanied by some stellar voice cast. We have Bill Murray as Baloo the bear, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Idris Elba as Shere Khan the tiger, Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha the wolf mother, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the snake and freakin’ Christopher Walken as King Louie just to name a few. Seriously, who doesn’t want to hear Bill Murray as Baloo and Christopher Walken as King Louie? You bet your as I want and I was not disappointed!
Btw. For all my German readers who watch their movies with German dub: I pity you! 😛
Speaking about voice acting, let’s talk about the first criticism I have. So, the movie makes you believe that animals talk. But there is some animals who don’t, and it feels very weird to me that Mowgli can have these elaborate conversations with some of the animals, but others grunt and make noises like their real counterparts. Especially jarring is that some animals that do have speaking roles in the animated version, don’t do so in this. If you are one of the people who love the elephant section in the animation, you will feel very disappointed. That also applies to the vulture section. Too bad because it really drags the movie down for me. I would have accepted it, if the film explained established a rule why Mowgli can her some animals speak and others not. For some people it’s a nitpick, but for me it’s quite a negative because it feels inconsistent.
Another personal negative I have is regarding King Louie. Normally he is portrayed as an orangutan. They are roughly human size. but not this King Louie. He is a giant ape, almost as big as King Kong form Peter Jackson’s adaptation. They explain it by saying that he is a Gigantopithecus, which I googled afterwards. It’s an extinct giant genus of apes that lived until 100,000 years ago. Only problem is – besides being extinvt for over 100,000 years – it still looks like an orangutan. So, on the one hand they have a prehistoric ape which a full skeleton was never found, but still looks like an ape from our days?! I don’t know. It just confused the hell out of me and took me out of the film because it reminded me of Jurassic Park. Nevertheless, the action scene involving the apes was pretty spectacular.
All the criticism aside, I have to get back to the obvious thing here. The story which is very well told and the technical achievement. You may know how giant of a Star Wars fan I am. So I’m gonna pull a Star Wars prequels comparison here, which aside from The Phantom menace were also entirely filmed in a studio. Not only does The Jungle Book looks much better and more realistic – in fact, if you haven’t told me that it was made entirely in the computer, I wouldn’t have guessed – but the script is much better, which makes it a much better film. So for all the Prequel defenders out there, you basically have no arguments left, other than claiming it’s Star Wars. The technology back then was not ready for a movie being completely born out of the computer. But with Jungle Book it seems like that now it certainly is. It looks stunning!
*I hope 10 years from now I will be able to say the same thing 😉
If you like The Jungle Book tale then you most likely do not need my review to go watch the film. For everybody else it’s totally worth checking it out. Do not think that this is a kid’s movie. It certainly applies as a family film, but the great story and great characters paired with the incredible visuals and an exciting 3rd act with great action sequences and amazing finale make it one of the highlights of 2016.
Btw. I want Jon Favreau to direct a Star Wars movie please! He seems to have an instinct for giant blockbuster movies (Iron man, The Jungle Book).