The Jungle Book is a spectacular live action and digital animation hybrid remake of Walt Disney’s 1967 animated classic.
Modern and mildly dark, the 2016 film fits right in with the new wave of live action remakes of classic Disney animated films, such as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella (2015).
Both the 2016 film (rated PG, 105 minutes) and the 1967 animated classic, (rated PG, 78 minutes) are adaptations of the 1894 book, The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling.
Directed by Jon Favreau, The Jungle Book features a man-cub named Mowgli (Neel Sethi), along with an array of digitally animated jungle creatures, including the familiar Baloo the bear (voiced by Bill Murray) and Bagheera the black panther (voiced by Ben Kingsley).
The movie begins with an orphaned Mowgli being taken in and raised by wolves. The plot thickens when Mowgli finds himself being hunted by Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba), a one-eyed tiger, and faces the difficult decision of either staying in the jungle and endangering the wolf pack that raised him, or leaving to live in the nearby man-village.
The Jungle Book’s combination of a single actor working with an entirely digital cast and set was a superior display of pure 21st century Disney magic.
Bill Murray’s dry, snarky voice was perfect for Baloo, a good-hearted but dim-whited goofball. Christopher Walken also voiced a great King Louie, the giant king of the monkeys.
The 2016 film does an excellent job of expanding upon the original story in a much more realistic manner, while maintaining the Disney feel viewers come to expect.
Although the latest film is more serious with less singing and dancing than the 1967 version, it does include the songs The Bear Necessities sung by Mowgli and Baloo, and I Wanna Be Like You sung by King Louie.
With the exception of Baloo and Bagheera, who get quite a bit more screen time than the other animals, most of the animals are less personified than in the 1967 classic, which works well with the new tone of the story.
The only thing that felt missing from the 2016 film was the humor. Some of the jokes, visual gags and lively songs featured in the 1967 classic might have enhanced the film, but the lack thereof did fit with the story’s serious nature.
The 2016 film is just as good as the Disney classic, which is one of the highest compliments any remake can receive. The ending, however, will still surprise those familiar with the animated classic, as it is entirely different.
For old school Disney fans, fans of classic children’s literature, and audiences of all ages, the Jungle Book is a must-see.