The Jungle Book (2016)
written by Justin Marks
based on The Jungle Book stories by Rudyard Kipling
directed by Jon Favreau
I went to see Disney’s CG/somewhat-live-action remake of their original The Jungle Book (1967) because my four-year-old son was interested in watching it. Half an hour in I realized I was into it, despite my misgivings about flashy digital spectacles like Avatar (2009) or Gravity (2013) that have left me cold with their emphasis on eye candy and zero narrative heft. Not this time.
The Jungle Book accomplishes the tricky task of creating a wondrous animated world while also focusing on story and characters. The voice cast, which includes Bill Murray as Baloo the bear, Ben Kingsley as black panther Bagheera, and Idris Elba as Bengal tiger Shere Khan, invest their animal counterparts with energy and personality (I was actually a little scared of Elba’s fearsome villain, but don’t tell anyone). And the action sequences will make you believe feral child Mowgli (Neel Sethi, one of only two real actors on screen) is running with a pack of wolves or dodging a stampede of water buffaloes. The Jungle Book is one fun ride.
Carlos I. Cuevas