Release Date: April 15, 2016
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks, Rudyard Kipling
Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling, Brighton Rose, Emjay Anthony, Max Favreau, Chloe Hechter, Asher Blinkoff, Knox Gagnon, Sasha Schreiber, Kai Schreiber, Jon Favreau, Sam Raimi, Russell Peters, Madeleine Favreau, Ritesh Rajan, Kendrick Reyes, Sara Arrington, Sean Johnson, Artie Esposito
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 105 minutes
Production Company: Fairview Entertainment, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family
millions of fans across the world that can’t get enough of what Disney
produces. In recent years, their film division decided to start dishing
out live action versions of their animated films, and I couldn’t be any
happier. While all of their new live action films haven’t been a
critical hit, they’ve at least made up the difference in opinion at the
box office. I wasn’t a fan of Maleficent or Alice in Wonderland, but enjoyed nearly everything about Cinderella.So when I heard The Jungle Book was their next film up to bat, with director Jon Favreau (Ironman, Zathura, Chef)
attached, I knew another hit was on the way. Favreau is one of my
favorite directors that puts his soul into each film, and that’s what I
felt in the theater. Not only did The Jungle Book meet my expectations,
it slightly exceeded them and is a film that certainly deserves your
It’s hard to choose which aspect of the film surpassed the others, because they’re all so great. Every single leaf, tree, drop of water, or grain of dirt was computer generated and shot on a green screen in downtown Los Angeles. Other than the little boy, nothing in the film was real. But everything seemed so real, as if you could touch it. As far as graphic effects are concerned, it competes with Avatar. My mind was blown by what the studio was able to accomplish. Every detail was treated with tender love and care, and it shows. The details of all the animals were so on point that when they lunge at the screen you may duck for cover (a few people did in my theater). It’s a true testament to what can be accomplished in filmmaking today, which is pretty much any and everything.
Though no matter how great the story is, or phenomenal the cgi landscape looks, it all falls apart if the lead character, Mowgli (Neel Sethi), doesn’t pull his weight. Sethi does and will easily be at the forefront of casting in his young career from now into the future. This child actor is so fantastic it is impossible not to fall in love with his performance. He’s the textbook example of childlike innocence, and is the force behind the film being so spectacular. He’s genuine, fair, and just wants to live his life amongst the wolves in the jungle. His acting is convincing, and it’s amazing what he was able to do despite acting with nothing there. As I watched him interact with animals, I was floored by how real it looked, and the only feeling I could emote was happiness. I’m proud to say he’s not the only standout in the film. All of the voice actors pulled their weight as well. The casting of all the animals was perfection. Bagheera (Sir Ben Kingsley) was the perfect father figure, but Shere Khan (Idris Elba) steals the show as the antagonist. His presence was extremely frightening and posed a worthy threat for Mowgli, and the rest of the jungle.
What surprised me the most was the amount of violence the film had. It’s not over the top and still for children, but if they’re under six years old please use caution. There were a ton of action scenes, with a good number of them having well-choreographed fighting between the animals. When the animals were engaged there was a real sense of danger, and the bass popped with every blow. Being a PG film it was unknown if this type of behavior would be present, but I loved every moment of it. The stakes were high within all the mayhem, and taken unto another high point because of Shere Khan’s motivations. He had a valid reason for taking the path he choose, even though it was a little misguided.
The Jungle Book is the type of film that makes you sing, dance, and feel like a kid again. At least that was the experience I had. On two occasions I was singing along with the characters in the film; along with a few other audience members, which made the experience that much greater. So many technical achievements were pulled off, and this type of work gets me excited for the future of filmmaking. It’s not too often that I’m blown away by a film, but this time I was. Other than one brief moment where I thought Mowgli was being a bit emotional, this film is flawless; or as I would say a Cinematic Masterpiece.