Film Review – The Jungle Book (2016)

Shere Khan Jungle Book 2016

Title – The Jungle Book (2016)

Director – Jon Favreau (Chef)

Cast – Neel Sethi, (Voices of) Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Sir Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Scarlett Johansson, Garry Shandling

Plot – Orphaned as a young boy, Mowgli (Sethi) is raised in the jungle after being rescued by kindly jaguar Bagheera (Kingsley) and given to the care of a wolf pack led by Akela (Esposito) and Raksha (Nyong’o). As he grows older however his life is threatened by vicious tiger Shere Khan (Elba) and Mowgli finds himself banished from the wolf pack and in partnership with honey loving bear Baloo (Murray).

 “No matter where you go or what they may call you, you will always be my son”

Review by Eddie on 12/04/2016

While it’s never going to be regarded in the same fashion as it’s beloved animated namesake from 1967, or the very book it’s based upon in the form of Rudyard Kipling’s revered novel, Iron Man director Jon Favreau’s well-meaning and entertaining Jungle Book update is a pure visual treat, that while missing the mark when it comes to heart and emotion, creates one of the most impressive CGI worlds we’ve been privy to in quite some time.

Every inch of this almost exclusively computer generated world that our man-cub Mowgli and his animal compatriots inhabit is intricately and wondrously designed. The wildlife looks so close to real you’ll be doing double takes, close ups of tiger Shere Khan’s face or monkey King Louie show the skills of the effects team in stunning fashion, if one was to need proof of the workmanship on show here.

The worry about these type of films is that the land we traverse with our characters feels fake or off putting, but Favreau and his team should be commended for creating from scratch a living, breathing environment that is a feast for the senses and will likely have children under the age of 10 under the illusion that this is indeed a real life magical jungle, which makes it that much more disappointing that The Jungle Book’s failings come from its heart.

With its film incarnations and adored books, The Jungle Book has engaged and enthralled viewers and readers for more than 100 years but seemingly in the midst of designing its intricate jungle and paying homage to the glories of the past whilst carving out its own path, Favreau’s Jungle Book never truly lays hold on the emotion or soul that makes this story such a lovable journey.

A large portion of the trouble to be found in connecting with this new age Jungle Book is in first time actor Neel Sethi as Mowgli, who struggles to find the balance between lovable jungle rugrat and annoying little kid, and when the film requires him to do more than look like his having fun, he really buckles with the weight of requirement that’s being passed onto his young shoulders. With Sethi the only real life presence in the film, Favreau finds some wins with his notable voice performers, with particular mention needing to be made of Idris Elba’s voice turn as Shere Khan who makes the fearsome tiger laden with menace and his a great addition to the film.

Apart from Elba, Bill Murray as larrikin bear Baloo is entertaining while other voice performances from the likes of Lupita Nyong’o and Sir Ben Kingsley are fine without standing out, whilst Christopher Walken’s appearance as King Louie becomes slightly off putting as you can’t help escape the feeling it’s just Walken being Walken with some added singing and extra fur.

At the conclusion of this expedition to the jungle, it ends up being a mildly frustrating one as while Favreau has without question created a visual spectacle, his missed the mark by a fair margin when it comes to the heart and soul of a story that has in the past made its mark in the emotionally resonate stakes.

The Jungle Book is a quick-fire and energetic experience and a likely winner when it comes to the children’s market, but with a little more concentration on the “bear” necessities that lay at the foundation of this touching tale, and a better casting decision on who was to become Mowgli, this redoing of the beloved story could’ve been a genuine all round classic.

3 pieces of honeycomb out of 5

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35 responses to “Film Review – The Jungle Book (2016)

  1. Great review! I’m watching it on Thursday and am ready to be marveled by CGI trees.. Really the only thing I’m looking forward to 😉

  2. Not in complete agreement coz I loved the movie and i think it played off perfectly to the earlier version..sent me straight down memory lane in a good way…thought Neel Sethi was really charming too!

    • Glad to hear you dug it so Moviebuff, I did enjoy my time with it but got nothing lasting out of it and sadly felt a disconnect when it came to Sethi and also the emotional components of the film.
      E

  3. Hmmmm, I don’t exactly know how I feel about this one. I will wait for it to hit DVD and then check it out. Great review!

  4. Completely agree when you say ‘the movie missed the mark when it comes to the heart and soul!’ Author Rudyard Kipling did such a fantastic job with the book. The movie kind of misses out on it.
    I guess your 3 pieces of honeycomb out of 5 is an apt rating.
    (Am wondering if you could share the remaining 2 pieces! Honey does taste good 🙂
    Looking forward to reading more of your fantastic reviews.
    Also, Thank-you for liking my review on the same!

    • So awesome to hear you agree mate, there were lots of great things here but I found the heart and soul was not one of them at all!

      Happy to have you on board for more movie reviews both new and old.

      And I think I might keep that honeycomb goodness all to myself 🙂 ha
      E

  5. Idris Elba was an effective Shere Khan I thought – I’m glad he went for a route far more sinister than Disney’s previous film. I don’t usually get unnerved with CGI creature-folk, but that scene involving the cubs and the story about the mother got pretty chilling.
    Bill Murray was great comic relief – although it did feel like he didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the film. Felt more like Murray reprising his role as Garfield than a full-bodied character in this film. Nevertheless got a chuckle or two from me, though.

  6. Big expectation too on this masterpiece of the animated cartoon but instead of beeing thought for children it was thought for adults which new the whole story and that’s why wasn’t so amazing but still very well done for 3D.

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