Animation to live action is risky depending on the previous source material. It did it well with last year’s surprise Cinderella and it’s without a doubt one of the best out there. Disney’s retelling of The Jungle Book is Jon Favreau’s magnum opus. He tackled a full-grown elf (Elf), a man in a metal suit twice (Iron Man), and become a man with taste (Chef). But he brilliantly brought the classic story in a way that’s so impossible to capture on screen by staying on track with the original Rudyard Kipling story and also with the 1967 Disney classic.
We’ve seen this story retold so many times, but this felt like this was gonna be very fresh and worth remembering when it’s over. It’s incredible that Neel Sethi as Mowgli was really good especially because he’s the only human actor in the entire movie. All of the voice talents in here are incredible. Right down to Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bageera), Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha) and Idris Elba (Shere Khan), who was absolutely terrifying providing the voice of one of Disney’s greatest villains. Christopher Walken as King Louie was amazing with me having a big smile when he’s on screen and when he eventually sings “I Wan’na Be Like You”, it’s like heaven. Speaking of the musical numbers, they weren’t really a problem for me. It was exciting to hear Mowgli and Baloo sing “The Bare Necessities”.
The highest praise of all is the spectacular CGI used and this features the most realistic visual effects for animals for a film since 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2012’s Life of Pi. So jaw-dropping and photo-realistic all brought to life on some props and a green screen on a soundstage in Los Angeles and it makes you believe you’re in the actual jungle. And as of right now, it’s an early strong contender for the Oscars for Best Visual Effects. Also, gotta give credit to John Debney’s magical score.
I was expecting this to be a by the numbers re-imagining that wouldn’t resonate with me. But this was beyond amazing on how much this was crafted into making a film that’s without a doubt astonishing. Favreau did an impressive job directing the material that’s needed to make this actually work.
The Jungle Book is an adventurous and extraordinary remake from every minute by staying true the faithful Disney classic.