If someone had told you some ten or more years ago that we would be witnessing an era in film where live-action versions of classic Disney animations were flourishing then you may have declared them insane. Thankfully, with the vast technology and talent available to the film industry in this day and age, that has been made possible and we’ve already seen films such as Cinderella, Maleficent and more taking the leap from the animated realms to human form.
The latest to join this world of endless possibilities is The Jungle Book, the classic tale adapted from Rudyard Kipling’s own stories, that takes form under the careful guidance of director Jon Favreau, a man noted for his previous work with action and adventure with films such as Zathura and Iron Man.
With Favreau behind the camera and renowned stars such as Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o and Scarlett Johansson all providing their voicing talents, The Jungle Book is a staggering success and here are ten reasons why it’s a film you cannot afford to miss.
10. The Score
Many audience members underestimate the power of a film’s score and the impact it has on the whole cinematic experience, and John Debney’s music is another spectacular example of how such a feature of a film is so integral to success.
Coupling action-infused tracks with those of the more classic variety, by way of ‘Bare Necessities’ and ‘I’m The King Of The Swingers’, there’s nothing like the sweet sound of a soundtrack set in the jungle.
9. A Magical Story
While The Jungle Book will certainly captivate with its innovative and scintillating animation throughout (more on that further into this article), it’s hard not to revel even in the end credits of the film.
Working as a nostalgic nod to those viewers who read the original stories, Favreau’s closing salvo sees a wonderful sequence in which the book of the film is literally opened for its character to be in full action. This is the book coming alive in the very literal sense and it is a thing of sheer wonderment.
7. Terrifying Kaa
While the actual book itself portrays Kaa as somewhat of a character in similar vain to Baloo and Bagheera, Disney’s animation took the mindset that the slithering snake should be nothing but a villain of the piece.
Such is Kaa’s status in the new form and, voiced pitch-perfectly by the sumptuous Scarlett Johansson, the character couldn’t be more fitting within the darker moments of the movie. Despite only featuring in one specific scene, Kaa’s presence is utterly terrifying, with Johansson’s soft tones hypnotizing and ushering us and Mowgli into a trance.
Only to be followed by a convincingly scary face-to-face with this monster of the jungle, Kaa’s moment in the spotlight is brilliantly depicted and delivers the goods.
6. Seemless Direction
Jon Favreau is an auteur whose skills behind the camera are only matched by the mass respect that he clearly has gained from his peers. This is a man who has helped to forge the Marvel Cinematic Universe, captured family adventure in the past and has even proved his own acting chops in the past.
Now he’s tasked with bringing alive a true Disney classic and does so with the utmost respect and complete efficiency. This is a film that is pushing boundaries, in proving to be aesthetically one of the best offerings in years, as well as maintaining a balanced tone akin to some of the most impressive adventure movies out there.
This is a man who clearly knew the monumental task at hand and has once again sought to bring out the best for audiences worldwide.
5. The Voices Of Authority
There are many authoritative characters within The Jungle Book who seek to guide Mowgli on his journey through life as the only man-cub in this natural habitat. Their own role in this story is just as important as the human himself and this is something clearly taking into account in the portrayal of characters such as Raksha and Akela.
In terms of the wolves whom Mowgli grows up with, the voices of Lupita Nyong’o and Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito couldn’t have been more suited. On the side of Nyong’o we have the subtle and caring mother figure looking to nurture her adopted son, while Esposito’s stricter and sterner tone is the perfect balance for a truly realistic parent pairing.
Working collaboratively to secure that level of family love and care into the story, this is a match made in heaven and one that brings us that much closer to the emotional side of this epic tale.
4. Introducing A New Young Talent
At the tender age of just 12, young actor Neel Sethi breaks into a Hollywood blockbuster and simply devours an already vibrant and lush vision of the jungle. This is a child actor whose only other performance took place some 3 years prior in a short film and yet he is dominating a film featuring all manner of award-winning film royalty.
If that wasn’t enough, this young man playing Mowgli does so without an incline that he would in fact have been filming for the majority with green screen and little much else. For such a technically-guided movie, a performance as human and impressive as Sethi’s is beyond belief.
He brings a true grit to the man-cub, an emotional core and a sense of fun and excitement to a film that could have felt rather artificial.
This is a young man who is going places and, just like Jacob Tremblay did so in Room, is breaking out on the movie scene with one almighty opening salvo.
3. Idris Elba’s Shere Khan
While the majority of the time we witness Idris Elba playing the good guy and the hero, when he does get the chance he certainly does take the bull by the horns and smash through those barriers.
He proved his knife-edged darkness in the brilliant Netflix offering Beast Of No Nation last year, but his turn as villainous tiger Shere Khan only bolsters his appeal as a bad guy.
Providing the perfect voice accompaniment to this already intimidating king of the jungle, Elba serves us tongue lashings of intelligent, scheming plotting and bites with moments of shocking venom. This is a Shere Khan proving to the rest of the jungle that he’s not be messed with and we’re easily convinced that this is definitely the case.
2. Baloo and Bagheera
No matter who provided the voicing for mentors and close friends to Mowgli in Bagheera and Baloo it would have to be a pair whose influence on the character would be just as important as their status with viewers.
Hence why Bill Murray and Ben Kingsley are literally perfect for these roles. Both are cherished actors with multiple years of unmatched experience and, quite literally, their voices are instantly iconic and recognizable.
Murray with his quick wit and penchant for a classic song, Kingsley’s grounded and wise words combine to solidify this bear and panther once more in our heart of hearts. Their dialogue is executed in the finest fashion, and the chemistry with one another and their young co-star is beyond belief.
Baloo and Bagheera couldn’t be more on point if we’d been asked to cast them ourselves.
1. Seamless Animation And 3D
How many times have you seen the words “seamless animation” and “3D” in the same sentence? It can be counted on just one hand in all likelihood, with the names Avatar and Life Of Pi possibly the last films that we could truly accept as truly unbelievable feats of animation and 3D combined.
Well, The Jungle Book may well be the latest to have you double-taking, rubbing your eyes and checking your pulse as we whisk our way through the most realistic jungle scenes ever witnessed.
Without any doubt whatsoever, this is a film that will have you utterly captivated in its gorgeous presentation. The beauty and vibrancy of the jungle captured in every frame, with all manner of creatures ensuring that there is no moment to look away, The Jungle Book is a groundbreaking visual experience and one that you won’t forget for quite some time.
The Jungle Book is out in theaters on April 15.