Out of all the great animated Disney classics, the one I’m least familiar with is “The Jungle Book.” Of course as a kid I grew up singing the Bear Necessities, but I was more of a Kiss the Girl or a Magic Carpet Ride fan. Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid and Aladdin are my top 3, with the latter being my favorite. Disney has now decided that amongst their Star Wars and Marvel franchises that it’s a great idea to do a live action adaptation of sorts of all their classic Disney animated films.
While Disney just announced they will be doing a Peter Pan film, I must say I’ve seen that story told at least five times too many they don’t have the worst track record with these films. So far, I’ve quite enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and moderately enjoyed Malificent, but Cinderella was a total waste of time in my opinion. It seems to me some are suited well to a live action universe, while others are not. In “The Jungle Book’s” case, they couldn’t have nailed it on the head better.
Please don’t let all the name dropping celebrities that lend their voice talents steer you away from this film, which is an extremely high caliber film that had me sitting Indian style, completely captivated by the CGI that brought the world to life. My guest and I were basically in the jungle, immersed in the world it created. It should be noted that I do prefer to watch movies in 2D, which is the format it was in, and the theater featured a Dolby Atmos sound system and leather reclining seats, making it a comfortable treat. To sum up the story, it’s about a boy whose father was murdered by Shere Kahn, an evil tiger feared by the entirety of the jungle. The black panther Bagheera took him in, and let him be raised by the wolves, who’s pups are so cute that they almost steal the movie. Mowgli is sent back to live with the humans when he meets Baloo the Bear, excellently voiced by Bill Murray, and learns a little bit more about other animals and himself. Shere Khan is set on nothing short of Mowgli’s death at his own paws, and relentlessly stalks him throughout his adventure, until the animals of the jungle decide enough is enough and decide to fight back.
I’m not one to critique a lot of voice actors, but you only see two live actors in the movie, so you really have to rely on Mowgli’s performance and the voice acting and nothing else. To be completely honest, I am one of those people who cannot stand an overuse of CGI. If actors stand in a room where everything is fake, it incredibly hinders the ability to dive into the story due to its shoddy appearance. Jungle book is the first movie I can say is 95% CGI and I am ok with it because it was so brilliantly utilized throughout the entire film I felt completely immersed in the world they created.
Jungle book certainly does have its story woes. Putting aside the abnormal amount of side characters introduced, the movie is incredibly predictable and cliche. After watching the film, my guest and I both agreed it’s the lion king, the hobbit, and others combined. Shere Khan’s motive and attitude is very Scar-esque, and so on. Even though it feels incredibly predictable and all of those things, it has such beautiful imagery and action that it didn’t really bother me that I rolled my eyes a few times. Especially in the third act, it gets real, and the last scene is just absolutely unbelievable and unique as an action scene. Some of the voice actors were really my only complaint. Scarlett Johansson’s role was so minor that it would have taken one day for her to do her lines. Having her pop up was honestly more distracting than it was interesting.
So while yes, Disney has stumbled a bit with live action movies, they really hit this one out of the ball park, so I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars. It would have been nice to see more originality and maybe twist up the story a little bit from the story we all know, but it really doesn’t matter. Whether you’re a kid, you will absolutely love it like a sugar high, and if you’re and adult, you’d appreciate the level of story making and CGI that quite honestly may never have been done before. The next big live adaptation that I’m aware of is “Beauty and the Beast” starring Emma Watson, which I’m all for since she’s a kick ass actress. I’ll give Disney more faith after this film, because they really stepped up their game with “The Jungle Book.” It was unbelievable in its simplicity and it’s a top notch action thrill ride that is definitely adrenaline pinching.
Written by Kory Davis