The Jungle Book, directed by Jon Favreau, is a fantastic step forward in the use of Motion Capture and great adaptation of the Kipling tale. The young actor who played Mowgli, Neel Sethi, was standout. In a 99% digital environment, He was able to interact with his surroundings as if it were real. There was never a point where I thought this film was shot in a warehouse in Hollywood. Visuals alone can’t make a movie great, which is one of my issues with Avatar. The visuals are an enhancement rather than the main attraction in this fun ride.
The voice acting and motion capture performance were top notch. I’m a huge fan of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The motion capture in this film is there with the quality of the Andy Serkis starred film. Serkis is also producing his own version of Kipling’s story for Warner Brothers.
The advantage of this film is that it is a Disney production, meaning the iconic songs from the beloved animated film make cameo appearances in the film. Bill Murray’s Baloo and Christopher Walken’s King Louis perform the two biggest songs of the film, “Bare Necessities” and “I Want to Be Like You”, and do them justice. I also realized I want Bill Murray doing more voice over roles.
This film definitely carves its own path from the source material and the animated adaptation. Mowgli uniting the jungle against Shere Khan is a unique spin on a divisive novel about imperialism and an animated film with strains of racial intolerance. The film also uses inclusiveness and family as themes. I do wish we had more time to explore the relationship between Mowgli and the Wolves. Some of the time devoted to fan service of the animated film eats into what could’ve been done with that relationship. There is also a point where it’s reminiscent of The Lion King in the stampede scene after the tiger chases Mowgli across the field. The overall story was great and tightly written. Favreau, like with “Iron Man” before this, is able to adapt an intellectual property expertly. He takes the essence of the story and updates it for modern audiences. Especially nowadays, when one mistake means the mob mentality disowns you. This film shows how even though you can make a mistake, you can be remorseful and forgiven.
Overall, the film is great and I would definitely recommend it to everyone. The few negatives I have of the film, stalls a bit in the middle and a quick resolution, pale in comparison to the upsides. The story, visuals and direction are all excellent. The animated film is held in high regard to me, but this version is right there with it and improves upon it in some ways. On a scale of 0-100, I’d give it an 89.