Did we need a JUNGLE BOOK reboot? Not necessarily. Did we want a JUNGLE BOOK reboot? Not really. Did we love the JUNGLE BOOK reboot? Hell yeah!
The recent Hollywood reboot fetish has been a heavily discussed topic. There’s plenty of strong argument both ‘for’ and ‘against’.
Disney’s answer to the reboot craze appears to be live adaptations of their classic cartoons, with no less than 15 remakes said to be in the works (including spin offs).
Direct live action remakes of their classics, such as 2015’s CINDERELLA, present a problem: Nostalgists can’t stand changes to their beloved story, while modernists cry lack of originality if the “dated” source material is too closely followed.
It appears with their latest offering, THE JUNGLE BOOK, Disney may have finally found the perfect balance between the old and the new.
Like the 1967 flick, this “new” JUNGLE BOOK follows man-cub Mowgli (delightful newcomer Neel Sethi) who is forced to flee the jungle under threat from the tiger Shere Khan. But while Walt Disney famously discouraged his creative team from reading the original Rudyard Kipling novel back in 1967 for fear it was too dark, screenwriter Justin Marks and director Jon Favreau have returned to the source for this new take….the result is an enthrallingly dangerous, yet still distinctly Disney-esque tale.
While the sumptuous visuals have dominated critical attention, the story telling is just as worthy of recognition. THE JUNGLE BOOK is an example of story telling at its best: Even with its child-friendly, PG-rated presentation, the film is still scary, action-packed, multilayered and utterly engrossing.
The incorporation of music is most welcome and incredibly well placed, paying homage to the Disney musical classics loved by so many, yet without falling into the trap of a carbon copy remake.
Sethi is a revelation as Mowgli, presenting strong yet oh-so-adorable characterisation, and coping remarkably well with performing in a CGI environment. The vocal performances are wonderful – talk about awesome casting! The voices are rich, warm and characterful.
Visually this film is hard to fault, with sensational CGI and a clever blend of motion capture. THE JUNGLE BOOK is simply stunning, with the animals incredibly real at times and the scenery breathtakingly beautiful.
As you can tell, I found little to fault in this film. Sure, the ending may have some audiences divided (even I felt a little unsure). But this is bound to happen in a story of this nature. After all, it’s a story of a man in an animals’ world: Some will feel Mowgli should be with his own kind, others will want for him to stay wild.
The personal journey aspect of the story means supporting characters come and go in the telling. This can give a slightly disjointed feel, yet the final chapter does well to try and tie it all in.
Disney, I bow to thee! You have managed to top even yourself. Dare I say it?!…. This remake may even be better than the original…. I rate THE JUNGLE BOOK 8 stars.