Jon Favreau’s live-action reboot of The Jungle Book is brilliant; you are transported from the very first second, into the heart of the jungle with Mowgli (Neel Sethi) and Bagheera (Ben Kingsley).
The CGI throughout this film is magnificent and sometimes, you forget that nearly the entirety of the movie is CGI; it’s lush, magical scenery and it’s realistic animal animations, lovers of the 1963 Disney animation will adore this live-action film. The scenery and cinematography is every scene is breath-taking; it’s when we meet Scarlett Johansson’s Kaa – in the middle of what looks like the spider forest in The Hobbit – that we see just how great the CGI is.
This environment is as dark as the scenery gets and the eeriness makes a fantastic backdrop for the character of Kaa – who we maybe could have seen a bit more of in the film.
Sethi’s portrayal of Mowgli is spot-on and it’s hard to imagine if a better person could have been casted; the way Sethi walked, talked, gestured and looked were exactly like the Disney animation and how most fans would picture the animated Mowgli if he were real.
It was nice to see that Favreau got the on-screen chemistry between Baloo (Bill Murray) and Mowgli just right and even threw it the classic “Bare Necessities” song so that fans could have a little sing-along.
What was sloppy – and it was a shame – was the scenes with the monkey kingdom and King Louie (Christopher Walken). Again, the CGI of the monkey kingdom and the animals was breath-taking, but the script was slightly off, Favreau had turned King Louie into this dark and menacing character and the throw-in of the “Swingdance” song was awful. That particular song felt incongruous with the rest of the film; it wasn’t needed.
However, what stole the show for me was Shere Khan voiced by Idris Elba. Elba got the voice of Khan spot on and his voice-overs and the CGI went hand-in-hand perfectly to create this show-stopping character. He was cruel, menacing, scary and possibly the best character in the film.
If Disney can carry on doing this well with their reboots of the classics, then they’re going to be very successful indeed. This film honoured the legacy that Rudyard Kipling left us and because of that, this live-action reboot is a winner.