The newest feature film adaptation of The Jungle Book is everything it was expected to be and so much more. This is only the second live-action film to be produced by Disney with the last live-action film having been released in December 1994 but this time, the animals talk.
It's been a few years since the last time I watched the animated classic but there are some nice homages to the classic, including the classic songs. The film doesn't have all the songs but they have The Bare Necessities and I Wan'na Be Like You, the latter of which features some new lyrics written by Richard M. Sherman. Trust in You, sung by Scarlett Johansson, is featured during the end credits.
The visual effects team takes CGI to an entirely different level.
Jon Favreau takes advantage of the updates to film technology as he directs from a script written by Justin Marks.
Neel Sethi stars as the young man-cub, Mowgli,and the all-star voice cast includes Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, and Christopher Walken.
The updated technology makes for CGI animals that look realistic. The storytelling helps draw in audiences into the Jungle Book environment that has never been seen like this before on the big screen. A lot of film goers who grew up on the animated Disney classics may be hesitant to show up because they don't want those classics to be ruined. They shouldn't be at fault because of Hollywood running low on original ideas. The classic isn't ruined. This builds upon it more so than the 1994 film and stays true to Rudyard Kipling's book.
Everyone knows by now how Mowgli (Sethi) is raised by a pack of wolves led by Akela (Esposito) and Raksha (Nyong'o) after being delivered to them by the Bagheera (Kingsley). Bagheera guides him out of the jungle and back to the man village as Shere Khan (Elba) is hunting him and wants him dead. Khan sees him as a threat.
On his journey to the village, Mowgli has encounters with python Kaa (Johansson), Baloo (Murray), and King Louie (Walken). He encounters the elephants but they don't talk like they do in the animated classic.
Favreau and Marks chose to embrace the myth of Kipling while leaving room for what people loved most about the animated classic. Throw in the realistic CGI, which I cannot stress enough, and a coming-of-age story that everyone is famiiar with and one gets a film that audiences will love.