The Jungle Book Review: I Wanna Be Like You

Jon Favreau’s ‘The Jungle Book’  has revolutionised the world of CGI animation and we may never go back.

Photo Credit: fastcompany


Up until now movie-goers, much like James Franco in 127 Hours have been trapped inside the Uncanny Valley  The Polar express awakened a fear for Tom Hanks we neither wanted or knew was possible and while Life of Pi was visually stunning, redefining animation and sound design, the film did not personify the animals as fully fledged characters, something which sets The Jungle Book apart.

Audiences are usually very skeptical when it comes to live action remakes in general which makes it all the more satisfying when they succeed, nay, defy all expectations and like Taylor Swift’s girl squad ‘Slay‘.

The movie is an adaptation of the 1967 animation and the original Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name. For those of you whose parents didn’t love you enough to show you the Disney classic, the story follows Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man cub being raised by wolves in the jungle who comes face to face with Shere Khan (Idris Elba) a fierce tiger with a vendetta against mankind. Mowgli is forced to leave the jungle for his own safety and the safety of his pack. Along the way to the ‘man village’ he befriends the ever fabulous Baloo (Bill Murray) and overcomes a series of emotional and physical obstacles that ultimately lead to a climactic face off with Shere Khan (talk about that story telling formula). The cast is joined by Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o and Christopher Walken.

Elements of the original tale are integrated in, making for a darker, more mysterious journey. The combination of childish wonder and mystical depth transport the audience from theatre to jungle making it very hard to believe the entire film was captured on a LA lot.

Neel Seethi captivates, working solely with CGI the duration of the film his interaction with characters make the animation all the more believable. In his first feature film he delivers an emotive performance, physically he is reminiscent of his 60’s cartoon counterpart, seamlessly interacting the his surrounding jungle. There is something poetic about a human almost transforming into his animated self while the CGI animals are beyond realistic. Their fur textured, movement deliberate and overall being intricately perfected.

The soundtrack is as hypnotising as the python Kaa (Johansson in menacing form). A collection of orchestral pieces and adaptations of the original songs. Done through the inclusion of lyrics in conversation, colloquial humming and an over pronounced, almost out of the blue but yet ever so amusing  rendition of ‘Wanna be like you’ rewritten for Christopher Walken.

Grossing $103,567,000 in the USA the film is sure to be a stand out of 2016, a serious contender for all things award season and a perfect introduction to the world of the fantastical.  The Jungle Book had been released nationwide and can be seen in both regular and 3D screens.

Were you a fan of the novel or previous adaptations?