Friday, April 15, 2016

The Jungle Book 2016 - Movie Review!

Who's In It?

Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo EspositoChristopher Walken, and Neel Sethi

What's It About?

Mowgli has been raised by wolves in the jungle, it's all he knows but when the tiger, Shere Khan declares he'll kill as many as it takes to exact his revenge on the man-cub for past wrongs, young Mowgli embarks for the man-village with Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear. This Disney classic remake runs true to form.

Bill Murray as Baloo - or is that Baloo as Bill Murray - you decide!

Any Good?

I don't think I've ever been as blown away by as film as this one. I don't hold much truck with remakes and as they go, this holds a very special place in my heart. I grew up watching The Jungle Book every Saturday with my Grandad, so I was sure it was going to be awful and quite possibly a cash in; but nostalgia was left behind almost immediately.

The visuals are INCREDIBLE, just as good as IMAX/Blu-Ray Avatar's were (I actually went back and watched just it for this review), only for the colours are more muted - even more so by the 3D glasses (a bugbear of mine). The animals' lip-syncing is spot on for the entirety, and the voice acting done so well that they leave behind any worry that the characters will just be vessels for the voices. Once the first character speaks, you're right there in the jungle with them.


The soundtrack is a 10/10 for me, while there's only 2 real songs featured, the score in general was absolutely perfect. The new Bear Necessities is epic, John Debney and his orchestra did a fantastic job of making Disney's most iconic song incredibly powerful and all without lyrics. Christopher Walken singing I Wanna Be Like You was made even more charming by the fact he can't sing, but he forever changed the way I sing the song to myself and will change the way you do too ooh ooh.

Speaking of Walken, I LOVED his King Louie; his infamous cadence, singing voice, and just how colossal he was. He would have stolen the show for me, if it weren't for Neel Sethi playing Mowgli. I don't usually like child actors, but he's easily the best actor so far this year and this is his first film. His mannerisms, his reactions (to green screen no less) - he's a star!

Every voice pitched perfectly, especially Bill Murray as Baloo and Ben Kingsley as Bagheera. They were perfectly cast, and played off each other so well, with Bagheera keeping Baloo straight and narrow - just how I'd imagine Ben would with messer Bill in real life. I think my biggest disappointment was Scarlett Johansson not getting more time as Kaa, she was quite literally mesmerising, so apt for the hypnotic serpent. I fell in love with her voice in Her (review HERE); her dulcet tones were even better in this - Johansson is proof ASMR is a thing.

I fell in love with how this newest Jungle Book was shot, there'd be gorgeous sweeping scenes of amazing CGI, landscape and animals, broken up by the totally menacing Shere Khan or even by the incredible "Red Flower"; it's a truly beautiful film. It felt Lord of the Rings-ish in scale nearer the end for me, and I think you'll know what I mean when you see King Louie.

Jon Favreau made his masterpiece with this but I really think the achievement is out-shone by Neel Sethi's potential. I recommend it in 2D as we saw it in 3D and only the end credits justified the encumbrance of glasses, while it sadly darkened the rest of the film. A word of note to parents of young'uns though, there's a reason this isn't a Universal rating, little ones might just find the menacing characters a little much.

It doesn't matter how old you are or if you have kids, or how many iterations of The Jungle Book you've seen to date - get out to the cinemas and be amazed by this Disney marvel.



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