I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I walked into the screening of The Jungle Book last night. However, I can say with full confidence that whatever my expectations were, they were well exceeded. I hadn’t done too much research, because my time hasn’t been very abundant lately, so I didn’t know what was going to be going on.
I was always a fan of Rudyard Kipling’s classic books and the previous film adaptations. The animated film in particular was always close to my heart and admittedly, I don’t remember too much about the last live action film starring Jason Scott Lee, so maybe I’ll have to do a retro review on it in the near future. What I am familiar with, is how fantastic this movie was.
Jon Favreau hasn’t disappointed me yet in terms of his directing resume (okay, maybe a little with Iron Man 2) and he has blown me out of the water with this one. The movie is so beautiful that I can’t wait to see making of DVD extras and the 3D was immersive in a way I haven’t seen since Avatar. There are a few shots that are less than perfect, particularly some of the action shots, but the CGI is visual storytelling are superb. The movie manages to feed you the emotions of these animals as if you were Mowgli himself in terms of the acting and the pace of the script.
Bill Murray as Baloo and Christopher Walken as King Louie stand out the most in a voice cast that proves to be truly superb. Newcomer Neel Sethi is a little bit of a weak point, but not quite Kristen Stewart weak. He gives a great amount of acting and as far as his movements and body acting he is near perfect. His dialogue delivery is a little Mark Wahlbergish, but it’s forgivable when placed in this environment and considering his age. It’s noticeable, but it doesn’t take much away from the film as a whole.
The songs seem a little forced, but they play into the movie fairly well and fans of the classic animated version will smile from ear to ear when they’re performed. The versions that play during the credits however, are much better and make staying until the screen goes black an enjoyable experience on par with waiting for Marvel Studios stinger scenes.
This movie awakened all types of emotions within me and made my inner-child both jump for joy and cover his eyes at the scenes that were a bit violent and intense at times. Though the violence seems like a bit much at times, it’s fitting for a movie about animals no one would dare to go near in a jungle no one should be this deep inside of. This one is definitely for more mature children and up.
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