I think it’s interesting that Disney is on a massive live action adaptation kick lately. In a time in film when everyone is complaining about remake after remake, Disney is still pushing ahead with this. Even then this latest stream of live action Disney remakes has had some good and some bad. The trailers for this movie looked good but I honestly wasn’t sure what I would be walking away with. Let’s review The Jungle Book.
I feel like the CGI was 50/50. It’s really hard to describe the type of stylization they used for all of the animals in the film but it was like photorealistic without ever ignoring the fact that what we were looking at was CGI. I was always aware of the fact that what I was watching was probably all green screen. Certainly many of the main character models were very solid; I have to praise the Baloo model in particular, as it was certainly a standout for the film.
I really didn’t care for the fact that they turned one of the best lines from the book into an oddly propaganda speech in the movie. The Law of the Jungle is used less as unspoken words to live by and more a rehearsed oath that characters rather unenthusiastically speak multiple times in the film. The movie even pokes fun at it when Baloo calls it out for being propaganda (even though he too recites it unenthusiastically by the end of the film). It simply felt like one of the best lines wasn’t really understood and instead got repeated to the point where it hardly meant anything at all.
The best thing going for this film is the amazing voice cast they got to play these iconic characters. If Disney was going to drag this story out of their vault “one last time” they at least did it with voice actors who could perfectly re-create the characters that we love. Bill Murray as Baloo and Ben Kingsley as Bagheera are both wonderfully performed. I had two concerns with the film and that was Christopher Walken’s King Louie and Neel Sethi’s Mowgli. Luckily both performed wonderfully and really stood out in the film. Competent child actors are really hard to find but Neel Sethi did an amazing job as Mowgli.
The film is another solid adaptation of The Jungle Book and unfortunately that’s about it. I’m worried that in Disney’s rush to readapt all of their properties to live action they are simply going to just rehash all of the old storylines instead of trying to explore something new within these stories. I feel if you are going to adapt something again you should try to adapt it in a way that sheds new light on different aspects otherwise what was the point in doing a new feature altogether? 3.4 out of 5.