Disney’s latest live-action remake has impeccable visual effects, but lacks the charm of the classic story.
Visually, the film is outstanding. The jungle and all the animals in it have been vividly rendered with stunning authenticity using advanced CGI techniques.
Plot-wise, it lacks. Shere Khan, the tyrannous tiger, seeks vengeance on man for past wrongs and young man-cub Mowgli is the unlucky focus of his aggression. Mowgli leaves his wolf-pack, and encounters a wild and wonderful array of animals, both good and evil. Ultimately, Mowgli returns to defeat Shere Kahn in a stirring and not-unexpected coming-of-age finale.
The Jungle Book, features an impeccable and well-chosen cast. Murray brings his trademark humour to Baloo, Elba menaces as Shere Kahn and Johansson is captivating as hypnotic Kaa. Kingsley, Nyong’o, and Walken each nail their respective characters, and newcomer Sethi is good as the young man-cub.
The original The Jungle Book was marketed as a “boisterous musical comedy”, this, a riveting adventure film. This marketing shift has attempted to cater to the male-dominated audiences of Iron Man and Star Wars, and is discussed in more detail here.
Despite Disney’s attempts to make The Jungle Book a tense action thriller, it is at its heart a kid’s film, and so we all know how it’s going to end. The certainty of Mowgli’s survival somewhat dampens the tension of his many death-defying escapes.
The comedic and light hearted mood of the original has drastically shifted, and the famous music either altered or removed. The jazzy and charismatic I Wan’na Be Like You has transformed into an unsettling refrain about power and greed, while the brief charm of The Bare Necessities is quickly overtaken by another tense moment.
Ultimately, the film is a constant sequence of dangerous scenes, punctuated by few light- hearted moments. For those looking for an unaffecting yet action-packed adventure, look no further.