Director Jon Favreau takes us deep into the Jungle in this re-imagining of Rudyard Kipling's original novel and the classic 1967 Disney film. We follow a man-cub named Mowgli, a boy raised in the Jungle by Wolves who is taken away from his family by Bagheera the Panther due to the fearsome Shere Khan wanting him dead.
The Jungle Book is a classic story that has been told many times, so what's so special about Jon Favreau's take on the story?
98% of Favreau's The Jungle Book is completely CGI with young actor Neil Sethi being the only live action element in the film. Favreau has created a world so rich, beautiful and completely immersive that you'll forget you're even watching a movie. From the jungle to the animals that inhabit it, every inch of The Jungle Book is a wonderful visual spectacle that will leave you smiling from ear to ear. What Favreau has done here with the use of visual effects is nothing short of remarkable and ranks up there with the likes of James Cameron's Avatar.
When sitting down to view this latest iteration of The Jungle Book, I never once thought that I would come close to loving it as much as the original Disney animation, but believe me when I say, this is the definitive version of The Jungle Book. There's much more depth, character and excitement to be had with this version of the story than ever before. It also helps that Favreau is working with an all star voice cast. Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Scarlett Johannson as Kaa, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Lupita Nyong'o as Raksha and Giancarlo Esposito as Akela are all absolutely sublime in their roles, they're all working with a marvelous script by Justin Marks and each character gets their due.
Of course with The Jungle Book being 98% CGI, young Neel Sethi had nothing other than a few puppets and a green screen to interact with. And whilst his performance isn't Oscar worthy, he does an absolutely magnificent job as Mowgli. It's clear to see how Favreau guided Sethi through this process and got out the best possible performance. There are moments between Mowgli, Bagheera and Baloo where I completely forgot that none of the animals are real, I bought into the fact that this young boy was talking to a Bear and a Panther.
Favreau wastes no time with the story, the film moves by at a dazzling pace, so much so that I was left feeling completely satisfied but would have been perfectly fine with a longer cut. Most of the same story beats as the original film are here, along with some familiar musical moments, but this is also a much mature version of the story. Many moments are quite scary, the most tense scene being Mowgli escaping from King Louie's palace with the help of Bagheera and Baloo.
There's a few action set pieces and all are tense, exciting and gorgeous to look at. What's so good about the action is that is serves both the character and the story. It's not action for the sake of action. I would recommend taking kids from ages 5 and up, some moments may be a bit too tense for younger viewers.
The Jungle Book is a visual experience that must be seen. It's gorgeous, heartfelt and incredibly engaging. I have no doubt that this is my favorite film of 2016 so far. I'm giving it a 9.5/10.
What did you think of The Jungle Book? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97