I was lucky enough to get to the 3D preview of The Jungle Book, which is absolutely brilliant! There were literally tigers and pumas flying out at me and making me jump out of my seat! For anyone who knows Disney’s original 1967 animated version, you won’t be disappointed with this new live-action movie. I personally had the sing-a-long VHS as a child and was thrilled to be able to see a new version that will delight a whole new generation of kids (and adults)!
Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) the CGI visual effects are amazing and you’d be forgiven for forgetting they didn’t actually hire real animals to play the roles of puma Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley), bear Baloo (Bill Murray), snake Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba). Think the Life of Pi multiplied by a thousand as a whole jungle is built and not just a tiger on a boat.
Mowgli is played by Neel Sethi, who is now 13 but looks far younger in the movie. He seems like he was born to play the role and has no problem holding the screen alongside a green screen animal! While the story follows the general Rudyard Kipling tale as the animated one, it is less musical, but still manages to pay homage to it with a rhyme by Kaa and a song by Balloo. I also especially enjoyed Christopher Walken as King Louie, a monstrous ape who wants ‘mans red flower’ from Mowgli.
Bill Murray is endlessly entertaining as Baloo, a manipulative and lazy bear after food and an assistant to steal him honey. Meanwhile Idris Elba is terrifying as Shere Khan which is exactly how he’s supposed to be. Ben Kingsley as Bagheera was so close to the original I want to go back and check it for similarity!
I was only slightly disappointed with the short screen time focused on Kaa and indeed the elephants don’t get the same fun scenes as the animation. However, I have to say I enjoyed every minute and will definitely watch this again! An exceptional masterpiece for all the family.
In cinemas nationwide now.