If you are a fan of the original Disney classic from 1967 or a fan of Disney films in general, this film is definitely for you. It has become the trend in Hollywood for classic films to be remade, and it has just recently become a fad for Disney animated classics being turned into the Live-Action format. While there have been mis-steps such as "Maleficent," which was a live-action interpretation of "Sleeping Beauty from the villain's perspective, there has also been greats such as the live-action reimagining of "Cinderella." Disney seems to have a great track record with live-action and animated films lately, so I could not help but be excited by the idea of the beloved "Jungle Book" getting reimagined.
I can gladly say that without a doubt, this film is just as good, if not better than the original classic. "The Jungle Book" improves upon every story aspect from Mowgli's origin being told in a very visually clever way, to Sheer Khan and King Louie being more fearsome characters than lead to be believed. As the audience follows Mowgli growing up with a pack of wolves, he leaves on an adventure through the forest. Coming across iconic characters such as Baloo, Bagheera, and Kaa, each scene feels like fan service for the fans, but in the best way imaginable. The way the songs make their way into the film does not feel too forced, but also did not have to be there. Happily, the film does a great job representing them in a subtle way and not turning the film into a musical. There is much more depth to the characters this time around and you really felt the peril when it rose to the occasion.
Everyone has been raving about the visual effects here and how they are some of the most technically advanced yet. While I definitely agree with that, there are elements of the film that will come off as slightly more artificial than others. The world around Mowgli is jaw-droppingly beautiful and the background animals look photo-realistic, but it is the animals who are not the main focus that stand out when they are in full frame. Having many of the same team members who worked on films like "Avatar," this truly was a remarkable looking film all around.
The score, while paying tribute to the classic film, still creates it's own fresh version as the film progresses, placing you in the emotion, the heat of battle, or simply calms you in the subtle moments. I loved everything about the score and how it played into each scene. The final act of the film is much more mature than most kid-friendly pictures are nowadays and almost felt like a nod to "The Lion King" at times. Everything that was set up earlier in the film (even the little things mentioned) all come into play in the finale, making for a very satisfying conclusion.
If I were to complain about one scene in the film, it would have to be the reveal of King Louie, which does feel a little forced to have his character show up. Once the reveal scene is over, the rest of the sequence is gripping and fun. Therefore, my biggest concern about the film ends so quickly that it is hardly a concern. As far as remakes go, you cannot get much better than this. Improving off almost every aspect of the original (while still respecting it), "The Jungle Book" is one of the best films I have seen by Disney in a very long time. This is a near perfect film in every way. For kids, teenagers, adults, and entire families to see and enjoy. This is the family film of the year. This interpretation of "The Jungle Book" is magnificent and I really do want to journey through this world more in the future. Highly, highly recommended.
Review By: KJ Proulx