“The man-cub Mowgli flees the jungle after a threat from the tiger Shere Khan. Guided by Bagheera the panther and the bear Baloo, Mowgli embarks on a journey of self-discovery, though he also meets creatures who don’t have his best interests at heart.”
When I first saw the trailer for The Jungle Book, I wasn’t amazed. Jon Favreau, the director, introduced the teaser trailer at the Disney Expo and I heard that everyone was saying the visual effects were mind-blowing.
I’m not sure exactly what they saw, but when I saw the official released trailer, the effects were just ordinary. This doesn’t hurt a film completely, but personally, if a film is going to have characters or environments that are CGI, I shouldn’t be able to tell they are visual effects because I’ll be distracted and/or disconnected.
I’ve never seen the original Jungle Book animated film, I know shame on me I’m a terrible person haha. One day, I will watch the Disney classic, but for this live action film I really wanted to go into it without having those expectations of it meeting or exceeding the greatness of the original. Let’s get started!
The visual effects in this film raise the bar to a whole other level. I really did not expect the visuals to look as gorgeous as they did. I completely forgot that a fantastic cast was voicing these animals. I really believed the animals were real the majority of the film. The visual art directors did an impeccable job of paying attention to detail as to how these animals would actually move in these scenes. For example, their ears would twitch, they would have muscle spasms, instinctual movement, etc. It was so damn impressive.
Speaking of the voice actors, what perfect casting to depict the true identity and soul of these characters. Idris Elba as Shere Kaahn was by far my favorite performance because he was so frightening and sent chills down my spine every time he spoke. I thought he was a wonderful antagonist because it was in his nature to be against Mowgli, he despised man, you’ll understand why once you watch the film!
Bill Murray was also brilliant as Baloo. His sarcasm and wit was a golden recipe when mixed with this character. He brought Baloo alive and made him so much fun just through his voice. He gave it his all and I can tell, because I know when Bill Murray doesn’t care to perform (*COUGH Garfield COUGH*).
Ben Kingsley as Bagheera was very soothing to the ear. He was such a great role model, parental figure, mentor, and most importantly friend to Mowgli that it was very touching to witness their relationship develop. Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha also gave me the same feeling as Kingsley.
Christopher Walken has one of the most iconic voices ever and I was worried he would be distracting in this film, but it completely worked. He was King Louie and I had a smile on my face every time he spoke. It felt so authentic and comedic.
Scarlett Johansson I felt was a little bit of a throwaway or waste. I felt like she could have done a bit more, but she did only have about 8-9 lines as Kaa the snake. But then again, why not get a voice actor who is more experience and could have given us something more unnerving, oh well, she was serviceable.
The theme is this movie was outstanding. What I interpreted from this iteration of The Jungle Book is that group assimilation should be irrelevant. This was beautifully expressed through the animals creating a peace treaty at their source of water. Every one of them lived in harmony, including their acceptance for Mowgli. The only one who opposed was Shere Kaahn, which we’ve seen in the trailers.
Through this film, Mowgli and the rest of the animals discover that maybe; just maybe, with pure heart can anyone or anything have a place to belong. This can be reflected upon our society to diminish exclusion of others that we think are different, that we are scared of, that we want to keep ignoring. That’s what I got from this film and it was powerful.
So for my negatives, I definitely did not feel this film was as magical as I wanted it to be. I thought it felt a little too bleak at times and felt uncomfortable having my younger siblings watching a tiger maul other animals brutally.
I felt the implementation of the two iconic songs (Bare Necessities, I Wanna Be Like YOU) were awkward because it didn’t feel right with the tone that Favreau set for the entire movie. I think they should have either done 4 songs, or none. The songs were great to listen to, but they just felt out of place.
There was this one plot point cliché that I absolutely despised because it just doesn’t make sense as to why a character would decide to do this and I’ve seen it in dozens of films. It’s between Baloo and Mowgli. Baloo decides to lie to Mowgli about something to push him away, when he can easily tell him the truth so that they can avoid an emotional argument or resentment.
Instead, nope, Baloo just lies to him and I’m supposed to feel emotional, but I’m actually thinking why don’t you just tell him the truth. I also felt their relationship as friends was not strong enough yet to give the emotional impact for that scene for me to care.
I thought Neel Sethi (Mowgli) was a good actor, especially for having to act with practically nothing. I give him huge amounts of credit for carrying this film, but I felt with a film as huge as this, the filmmakers must make a world-wide search to find the best capable actor for something as challenging as this. He was good, but he did not charm me. I didn’t feel as connected to him as I wished. I’m looking forward to his progression with the sequels to come!
Overall, this movie is freaking fantastic. It’s an experience that you’ll probably remember for the rest of your life. Whether you like it or not, this movie is an experience, I can’t stress that enough. The visuals are just ridiculously masterfully crafted, the direction is clear, the voice performances were incredible, the theme was beautiful, and Neel Sethi did a great job carrying this whole movie on his shoulders.
I loved hearing my grandma beside me saying how pretty the film looks. She doesn’t speak any English and enjoyed it, so hopefully you will too! Go see this film please. My rating for this film is 8.5/10!