The Jungle is Wild Entertainment

The Jungle is Wild Entertainment

Garrett Wheeler, Editor in Chief

The Jungle Book is a live action/CGI remake of the classic Disney animated film based on the Rudyard Kipling book. I’ve never read the book, but I have seen the animated film and honestly, I was never that much of a fan. It was okay, but nothing really stood out in my eyes. However, the trailer for this remake fascinated me. It looked dark, gritty, and had a beautiful aesthetic to it. So I went to go watch the film and was surprised at just how good it was. Dark, live action Disney remakes have become a common thing now, and in my eyes, The Jungle Book is the first one to do it right.

This version of The Jungle Book is directed by Jon Favreau, director of the first two Iron Man movies, and stars first time actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli. Mowgli is a boy that was left in the jungle after his parents disappeared. Taken in by Bagheera the panther, voiced by Ben Kingsley, Mowgli adapts to the jungle and manages to find himself a family to be a part of. All is well until Shere Khan the tiger, played by Idris Elba, threatens to kill Mowgli because of him not belonging into the jungle. Mowgli must then go on an adventure to get back to the “man village,” meeting many other characters along the way, including Baloo the bear (Bill Murray), Kaa the snake (Scarlett Johansson), and King Louie the monkey (Christopher Walken).

With the exception of Mowgli, everything in this film is created with CGI. Everything from the animals to the ground to the trees to the bodies of water have been created through computer animation. And honestly, it was hard to tell. This film is absolutely gorgeous with some of the best CGI I’ve ever seen. Everything in this movie looked so real. The animals, trees, water, and everything else is beautifully animated with lots of detail and color in every frame. It was hard to believe that this was all shot on a soundstage.

The voice work is equally as impressive. Every single creature in this film is voiced by a great actor, and each one of them does a phenomenal job. Idris Elba makes an absolutely terrifying and menacing villain through Shere Khan, Ben Kingsley’s voice matches the look Bagheera perfectly, and Christopher Walken absolutely killed as King Louie. However, none of them hold a candle to Bill Murray as Baloo. There is not a single actor that could’ve done a better job as Baloo than Bill Murray. He matched the personality and look Baloo perfectly. Bill Murray was born to play this character.

I really like the way they told the story. This is based off of the original Jungle Book Disney film, but this time it’s much darker, grittier, and kind of shocking in some parts considering this is rated PG. This caused the movie to be absolutely thrilling, with a hefty amount of action and suspense while creating a solid atmosphere throughout the entire runtime. This was a very entertaining movie to watch.

There are a couple nitpicks I have to address, for this movie isn’t entirely perfect. There are a couple of parts in the film where the story has inconsistincies. For example (WARNING: VERY MILD SPOILERS), there’s a scene where Mowgli and Baloo are riding down the river singing “The Bear Necessities” while the orchestral score was happening in the background. The timing was a little off when they sang, but it made the scene feel organic– as if they were singing that song on the spot. And then later in the movie, when they met King Louie, the movie turns into a musical, with him singing “I Wan’na Be Like You.” He’s singing along with the music in perfect timing, and the scene felt kind of jarring. But then again, it was Christopher Walken singing, so why am I complaining? But seriously, it’s small things like that that took me out of the movie for a second.

My other nitpick is with Neel Sethi as Mowgli. Don’t get me wrong, he did a great job, especially for what all he had to do. However, there were times when his performance felt stilted and awkward. He seemed to be unsure of himself in certain sections of the movie. I can’t really complain too much because he’s acting against nothing, but it certainly noticeable.

I also thought Scarlett Johansson as Kaa was underutilized. Kaa was very creepy in this film and Scarlett Johansson did a great job as the snake, but Kaa is only in the film for one sing and then just forgotten about. I would’ve liked to have seen Kaa in the film more prominently.

My last nitpick is probably the smallest. There were certain shots in this film that were obviously shot in the intention of being shown in 3D, and that got distracting at times. But other than that, that’s all I have to complain about.

The Jungle Book was surprisingly phenomenal. It was beautiful, dark, emotional, and overall enjoyable to watch. This gives me a new hope in CGI-based movies. This is one that’s absolutely worth checking out. The Jungle Book is one of the best live action Disney remakes yet and one of the best movies of the year.