Swingers is one of my all-time favorite movies, and when I found out that Jon Favreau was directing the live-action version of The Jungle Book, I was pretty excited. The Swingers soundtrack has a version of "I Wanna Be Like You," from the 1967 original Disney animated film, which makes Favreau's part in the new Jungle Book project even more intriguing.
I always love the music in Favreau's films, as well as his clever, offbeat sense of humor. His quirky storytelling is another reason he is on my top five best filmmakers list. Add to that all of the amazing voice and technology talent contributing to this film, and I was jumping to see it on the big screen!
I saw the live-action Jungle Book in 3-D, and my first impression was: WOW. I typically do not like watching films in 3-D; I find it very disorienting, which only detracts from the film. Not so with The Jungle Book. I was immediately mesmerized by the lush and vibrant scenery, and transfixed by the movement of water, vegetation and animals. It was optic poetry.
Having seen the original animated Disney version of the film a number of times (both as a kid, and as a mother), I was more than familiar with the storyline. I was curious to see how Favreau's rendition would hold my attention. Luckily, I found myself delightfully riveted. Watching it in 3-D I'm certain only added to the intensity of the movie, but I feel very strongly it would come across in much the same manner on a typical screen.
Neel Sethi as Mowgli was incredible. I can't fathom how he pulled off acting so convincingly when the interaction with his co-stars was largely computer generated and manipulated separately from his original performance. It seems as though the evolution of technology in film has created an evolution of actors in turn. Sethi's performance integrated seamlessly in the final composition of the movie.
This is a fantastic film to enjoy as a family (unlike Deadpool, which was terribly awkward with my 13-year-old son). It might be a bit too much for children under 5 to see in a theater, but appropriately thrilling for anyone older than that. I was spellbound the entire time, which is quite a feat, considering how true to the original — and again, very familiar — storyline Favreau is. I highly recommend this new, magical version of The Jungle Book!