In The Jungle Book, the live action adaptation of the famous Disney retelling, a boy (Neel Sethi) raised by wolves is put in danger by his own humanity, as the bloodthirsty Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) vows to kill the child.
CG burdens many films, which become over-dependent on them for spectacle’s sake. In the case of this film, the attention to detail in the computer effects aids in the transformation of the narrative from animation to live action. The special effects also do not detract from Mowgli’s story, and instead are aesthetic additions that create the lush jungle landscape and its inhabitants with glossy realism.
Given all of the green screen effects work, the young actor playing Mowgli needs some credit where credit is due for acting so well in a world of tennis balls. His performance isn’t perfect, of course, but what he is able to do with nothing really in front of him is impressive.
The voice acting, too, is solid. Bill Murray is perfectly cast as Baloo, his dry charisma making for humorous line readings. Ben Kingsley and Idris Elba also do great voice work, although they are overshadowed by Murray.
Although it is obligatory fan service, the insertion of the animated film’s musical numbers doesn’t really fit the tone of this adaptation. In the first instance, it kind of works based on how it is integrated into the scene, but in the second instance it takes away from an otherwise climactic moment.
With The Jungle Book, Favreau has crafted a worthy adaptation and has likely opened the door for a new generation to love the exotic world of Kipling’s narrative. It uses CGI effectively and not as a gimmick. The performances, particularly from the young lead, are noteworthy. And it is sure to hit multiple demographics with these strong suits, which is saying a lot for a children’s movie.
As always, thanks for reading!
—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)