The Jungle Book

Film , Family and kids
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The Jungle Book

Oobie-do… Disney's live-action remake of 'The Jungle Book' is a winner

Who wanted a Disney remake of ‘The Jungle Book’? No one. Especially not one combining CGI with a real-life boy. But forget about your worries – this new version is the jungle VIP. Director Jon Favreau hasn’t monkeyed around, dipping into the 1967 cartoon for gags and fun and Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 novel for darkness, adding awe-and-wonder effects (I gasped as elephants appeared out of the mist in all their trumpeting majesty). Still, it should come with a warning: this is not safe ’n’ cuddly, hug-a-tiger Disney (Twitter is already calling it ‘“The Revenant” for kids’).

Twelve-year-old Neel Sethi (picked from over 2,000 child actors) stars as Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves. Credit to the filmmakers for adding female characters to the all-male line up, with Lupita Nyong’o playing Raksha, the mother wolf who loves Mowgli as fiercely as her own and protects him when tiger Shere Khan stalks back into the jungle with designs on turning him into a man-cub morsel. It’s wise panther Bagheera (voiced to perfection by Ben Kingsley) who decides Mowgli must return to his own kind.

As a villain, Shere Khan is up there with Scar from ‘The Lion King’ and quite possibly baddie of the year. Voiced by Idris Elba (with his east London accent, like Luther gone bad), this predator is all the more dangerous because he’s at the end of his murderous shelf-life: battle scarred, gnarled, a little mangy, and capable of anything.

Halfway through, you’re thinking: the only thing missing here is the songs. Then, in ambles Baloo, the workshy slacker bear with the colossal rump and fondness for honey (voiced by Bill Murray) humming ‘The Bare Necessities’. Next, oobie-do, along comes the king of the swingers himself, giant ape Louie – Christopher Walken drawling like a Brooklyn mob boss as he shakes down this kid Mowgli.

‘The Jungle Book’ is not perfect. The story drifts a bit and the message is a little fuzzy. Is it about human destruction of the environment? Actually, it’s most moving dealing with the end of childhood. ‘They’ll ruin him,’ says Baloo sadly as he escorts Mowgli to the man-village. ‘They’ll make a man out of him.’ Still this ‘Jungle Book’ has the bare necessities, and then some.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday April 15 2016
Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jon Favreau
Screenwriter: Justin Marks
Cast: Neel Sethi

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Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:2
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  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|14
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Daniel L
Tastemaker

Talking animals and amazing animation. What more could a boy ask for! I wasn't expecting much from a movie I thought would be directed at kids, but how wrong I was. I came out of the cinema happier than the 9 year old girl next to me. This was a wonderfully brilliant production, and I have no idea where they managed to cast mowgli but he was so convincing in the show. Hats off to the amazing young lad. He has a bright future ahead of him. I was lucky enough to catch the 3D version of it and it is well worth the extra quid as you get the animals really leaping out at you. I definitely found myself reaching out to try to pat some of the animals! this is a whole family show that would be a great day out for both kids and adults.

Tara P
Tastemaker

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I was apprehensive about the jungle book. Although it was never a childhood favourite, in my experience mixing humans with CGI animals can lead to disastrous results. My fears were unfounded: I was blown away. From the first moments, the first bars of the familiar tune, I was sucked into this fascinating world. The concept of a 'man-cub' is so much more impactful with a real rather than an animated boy, the interplay between man and nature all the more stark. There are moments of lighthearted humour, but the film is characterised by darkness - by true enemies and surprising cruelty. It strikes an epic tone, reminiscent of the best fantastical journeys we've seen on screen. The performances are wonderful - though the choice of Idris Elba for Sher Khan is jarring, the London accent just not ringing true. This was the film's biggest disappointment. Overall, it's eminently watchable and even verges on thought-provoking: a true success for Disney.

MandyGo
Tastemaker

Being a huge fan of Disney classics, I was apprehensive at the thought of our beloved Baloo and gang having CGI makeovers for The Jungle Book remake. With only one way to settle it, I was pleasantly surprised by Jon Favreau’s take on this iconic tale of animal adventure.


When you consider that young Mowgli’s co-stars were non-existent during filming and he’s the tender age of 12, little Neel Sethi did a pretty good job at bringing to life everyone’s favourite man-cub. Hats off to the casting crew for finding him – it’s certainly given his career a kick start!


The visual effects throughout the film were pretty spot on. Different animal characteristics were identified perfectly and really gave the film an authentic feel.


I think the biggest shock for me was how dark the film comes across when not in its animated form. With that said, apologies to row G in front for becoming victims of unintentional popcorn showers. On numerous occasions. I was surprised at how many times I jumped! It’s rated a PG – but I can’t help but think it should have a 12A stamp on it, the animal and human interaction was pretty frightening.  That Shere Khan is a nasty piece of work!


There were certain voices that didn’t seem natural to the animal it was expressing. I know that sounds ridiculous and I didn’t ever imagine I’d type those words in the same sentence, but Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson didn’t seem to work as well as some of the others.


Your favourite songs were there in the right places, although the musical side of things didn’t seem to be priority with this version. So if you’re after a good sing-song, download the Spotify playlist or get your hands on the soundtrack and let the music fill your journey to and from the cinema. Because I wouldn’t want you or your vocal chords to be disappointed – and as any true Disney fan knows, the fear is real.

Anaelle
Tastemaker

I might be the only person on earth who feels this way but I have to say I was not overly impressed with this new Jungle Book. For me, making a remake is only justified if you do it better and/or different – think Vanilla Sky that added so much to the original plot.


The Jungle Book was not like that. The trailer made it look like it was an interesting new take on the Disney classic. A little darker, a little more violent, it felt like a more grown-up version. This could have been interesting. Instead it falls short. After a few instances where the movie differs slightly form the original (see the threatening massive King Louie or the crazy and murderous Shere Khan or Johansson playing Kaa), it follows the previous film to the letter, even including the songs…


Sure the CGI is breath-taking and sure it’s great to see the kids engaging with this old-time classic too. But by being too similar, for me, it doesn’t justify the remake.

Niomi Harris
Tastemaker

I thoroughly enjoyed this and I would even consider going back and watching it all over again! For those who remember it first time round, it's lovely to see that they've stuck to the original story and what's great is that younger people can enjoy it for the first time round too. The 3-D and special effects is amazing and young Neel Sethi who plays Mowgli is a breath of fresh air- I predict big things to come in his future. The voices of Idris Alba and Ben Kingsley were a great casting however, I didn't really like Scarlett Johannson as the snake- that's just my personal opinion. A great fun family film but with enough substance to make it enjoyable for adults too.

Vishaal V
Tastemaker

Excellent film! 3D works really well here, and the story is well told. The animal characters are voiced brilliantly, in particular Idris Elba as Sher Khan - genuinely scary even for fully grown adults! Neel Sethi as Mowgli is also excellent, especially when you consider all the scenes are shot with CGI animals. I assume it is much easier to act when there are other human actors you can feed off, so Sethi does particularly well. 


The action scenes are a pleasure to watch, and famous songs are executed very well. Basically - you need to see this film. 

Kirsty S
tastemaker

Absolutely visionary in style, graphics and entertainment/ Still has the heart and soul of the book and original film but more sophisticated with close attention to the characters. My favourite part is the King Louis stint. Fun for all the family but big kids with love the clever play on the original , a trip down memory lane absolutely worth embarking on, and, ironically, the future of film has certainly been set a high bar!

Sarah G
Tastemaker

Took the whole family ages 53 -9 yesterday to see the 3D version and we all loved it! I was particularly impressed with the quality and impact of the 3D. It really added something to the experience.

I wondered how well Disney could take such a classic and make something new from it but they have succeeded. I'll put my hands up here, my primary reason for going is cos I'm an Idris Elba fangirl & he is tremendous as sher Khan, but in truth all the cast are all great. The visuals of the animals and jungle also really convincing. I found it far more dramatic than I expected and nearly jumped out of my skin a few times.

Jungle Book being a historical fable means there are some things that are difficult to translate to the modern day - like what the rights and wrongs are of human impact on the environment are quite difficult to wrap your head around. But I've decided it's meant to be children's entertainment primarily so am not going to think too deeply about it all. The child actor is charming.

If you liked the original film and like a bit of live action adventure then what's not to love about this film? Plus don't forget IDRIS ELBA,

Tiago Almeida
Tastemaker

Oh Mowgli how I missed you!

Breathtaking, visually outstanding, emotional, scary and funny - what more do you need.


The young actor that plays mowgli is very convincing and the CGI characters are absolutely amazing that could be confused with real animals.

The story you should already know but if you don't you will love it.


Kind regards

TheMixedMedic
Tastemaker

Like most I was probably a little sceptical when it came to a CGI remake of eveyone's favourite Disney classic, however I reassure you that you will not be left disappointed. Although the life-like animation will have you constantly gripping the edge your seat in fear, it will also reignite your favourite childhood memories in ways you couldn't imagine. Singing along to the Bear Necessities the way my grandfather used to, I amused myself while briefly imagining what his reaction might be had been able to see such an incredibly vivid remake.

Despite knowing the story so well, the tension and childlike excitement is not lost on anyone, with the help of a few twists and tweaks that make the script more similar to the original writings by Rudyard Kipling.

Luisa G
Tastemaker

What a fabulous remake of a classic. It's hard to come close to an original sometimes, but there is the possibility this one could be even better! The graphics were just absolutely fantastic, the storyline was lovely, and the actors did a fantastic job portraying their animal counterparts.

Jane G.
Tastemaker

I was concerned about the CGI since almost the entire movie is digital. The young actor who plays Mowgli did an amazing job. Such great effects! Bill Murray as Baloo was priceless. The best treat was Christopher Walken as a mobster King Louie. To be honest it was just a bit slow here and there but well worth seeing!

Tom
moderatorStaff Writer

Had the kids mesmerised from start to finish; and enough in it to keep the adults entertained too as you try and recall the various parts of the original. Stunning visuals and of course Christopher Walken can do no wrong!

Alexandra L
Tastemaker

I’m a big fan of Jon Favreau. I liked the first ‘Iron Man’, I loved ‘Chef’ and I think he always comes across as a great guy who enjoys his job & respects his profession. I’m also a big fan of the original ‘Jungle Book’ with its brilliant characters, charming animation & earworm songs so the thought of a live action remake of the latter by the former was a-ok by me. I’m sorry to say though, it just didn’t float my boat.


Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad by any means. It just wasn’t great. It was ok. It was fine. It was a passable way to spend a couple of hours in the cinema but I think we’d all agree that ‘ok’, ‘fine’ & ‘passable’ are not the greatest of compliments to a movie.


Visually it’s fantastic. From the opening scene in which you can almost feel the tropical humidity pulse off the screen towards you to the introduction of such gorgeous creatures as the softly shaggy Akela and so-sleek-and-glossy-I-wanted-to-reach-out-and-stroke-him Bagheera, there’s not an inch of the screen that doesn’t look alive and exciting with exceptional attention to detail. I greatly preferred the CGI characters to the lone human; Neel Sethi’s Mowgli was bright, lively and athletic but a touch too stage-school for my liking. To be fair to him, I’m not sure this role could be played in any other way – it’s absolutely not a Jacob Tremblay from ‘Room’ type child performance – but I was glad it didn’t run for any longer than it did.


Some of the recognisable actors voicing the characters work well – Sir Ben Kingsley is the perfect voice for the level-headed and powerful panther and the late, great Garry Shandling brings to life my favourite character of all, Ikky the porcupine who claims one stone, rock & twig after another in a genius turn. Idris Elba, who I loved as the buffalo police chief in ‘Zootropolis’, was unfortunately nowhere near suave or wicked enough me as Shere Khan – Jeremy Irons’ Scar in ‘The Lion King’ was far more genuinely evil – and he brought a roughness to the role that didn’t match the scarred & mangled beauty of his physical character. I also found Bill Murray sadly lacking as Baloo; there was the sarcasm and gentle digging you’d expect from him but not the bouncy, jolliness of the original animated bear. Scarlett Johansson’s melodic & hypnotic voice was an interesting twist on Kaa but I kind of missed the levity of the stupid, lisping, unintentionally comical original.


For me, this version is absolutely made for children. Well duh, you might think as you roll your eyes at me, it’s a kids story based on a kids cartoon and yeah, I get that. However, I’d argue that most of the best animated and kids’ films of recent years have had something in them for the adults in the audience as well as the kids, a smart humour that partners cleverly alongside the more obvious childrens' jokes and this just didn’t. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was bored but I sure wasn’t having as much fun as the under 10’s in my screening.


I have a lot of trouble with Hollywood’s ongoing obsession with remakes especially as some of the films they pick simply can’t be bettered in my opinion and this film is a classic example of that; sure it’ll bring the story to a new generation but there’s a part of me that kind of wishes that generation would just watch the original and see for themselves where the love for it came from.