Will one kid, a load of CGI and the man who directed Iron Man re-invigorate or ruin a cherished childhood classic ?
This film is hard to characterise as it’s mainly CGI, with our new Mowgli being the only human part in the film. Then this is not Pixar or part Avatar, with a completely constructed environment or world. It is also not the lovingly hand drawn cartoon film of peoples’ childhood. It’s not really going for the same level of catchy classic tunes from the original either.
So how does this end up being magical, memorable and just a little bit magnificent like the jungle and animals we share this adventure with ?
Mowgli – great. Not too cute or pretentious. Director Jon Favreau found a class act in his lead, who could be “IronMowgli”.
CGI – Incredibly realistic, and feels lovingly handrawn, using a new craft to do so. English talent behind this I believe… again. This country is still very good at this stuff.
Voice cast – Almost perfect across the board. I won’t list them all here, but Bill Murray as Baloo, Christopher Walken as King Louis and Idris Elba as the fearsome Shere Khan are all present beyond there CGI shackles, as is the scaley Scarlett Johansson. The screen is literally alive with what feels like a physical performance from each one, skillfully harnessing what we already know about and relate to in their personalities and capabilities as actors.
Songs – There are two of the favourites left in here , which director Jon Favreau was personally divided on whether to leave in or not. So hey he went with it, and they’re not half bad. Cleverly throughout the film there is an instrumental score that nods to the original but leaves it almost adding narratively as a musical backdrop enhancing the story. I’m not completely sold on the need to include the music still in this film, but I think what has been left in is well judged, has charm and a new spirit to it generally in keeping with the rest of the film.
The Jungle Book reminded me of our new Paddington, though I think Paddington is the more complete of the two films. Both could have been dire, and both defy expectation. This is one for the big screen to appreciate its’ artistry and scope. I would also close in saying that this is definitely a more grown up Jungle Book in tone and intensity, not for the very little ones… If one of your reasons for going to the cinema is to feel something different to the norm and to escape from reality, then this is one of those (“singing”) bear necessities. A surprisingly satisfying – 8/10.