Film Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

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I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get myself to write a review for the new Jungle Book movie. I saw it opening night which was mid April and I’m only now getting myself together enough to write a review. How can this be you may ask?! Well part of why it has taken so long is because I have been crazy busy, but the other reason is because I needed time for the film to sink in I think. I was not really a fan of The Jungle Book growing up but you all know how I feel about Disney and their latest adaptions… I knew this film was going to be great. The trailer alone blew my mind with the visual effects.

 

The new live action Jungle Book movie, which is directed by Jon Favreau, was absolutely amazing and so magical and captivating. I can’t believe how far we’ve come digitally in film and it makes me so proud to be part of the generation that is taking film to a whole new level.

Okay so getting into the review:

Let’s just start right off with the Directing: I did not know that Jon Favreau was the director. I mean every time I see him I think of Pete in F.R.I.E.N.D.S, but holy moly this guy is talented. What a visionary! I don’t think this film could have been done any better to be honest, and all of the little details that make it so amazing is due to Jon Favreau and his vision of this adaption.

Acting: While the majority of the actors only lent their voice, Neel Sethi who plays Mowgli, did an absolutely amazing job. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to act the majority of a project with green screen, and on top of that do a bunch of action stunts alongside those green-screen/pretend characters. Bravo little one!

The rest of the cast was absolutely perfect too. I’ve always loved Ben Kingsley and he was nothing short of spectacular, as was Idris Elba. He is very good at being terrifying. He also has such a unique voice, he should do voiceover more. Lupin Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray and Christopher Walken were also on point. Seriously great casting.

Soundtrack: LOVED IT!! It was very cinematic, but also managed to reference the original Jungle Book music. The soundtrack was great for building anticipation in certain chase scenes and there was a wildness to the music as well. I find whenever I hear a drum beat I find connection to the jungle. It was a similar sound in Jumanji and in The Revenant; like a wild drum. Soundtracks in films are very important for me. I find they make or break the overall impact of the film and the music really just sets the tone. I find that I cry way harder in films with good music… it just hits you right in the feels!

Editing/Cinematography: Absolutely BRILLIANT. I have a lot of trust in Disney films, I mean I’ve rarely been disappointed with Disney films and I think a lot of it has to do with editing and cinematography. Even in Disney’s first few films you can tell a lot of work was put into them and that commitment to quality film is still very important today. I feel like a lot of people will be skeptical of this adaption because they are worried it will be cheesy with talking animals. Well let me just tell you, do not be concerned about that because that potential issue was taken into account when making the film.

I read an article in the hollywood reporter about how the director was concerned with it looking cheesy with talking animals so he referenced back to the original animated version by Walt Disney himself and found that he also was concerned about that despite the film being animated. And while watching, I never once felt it was unrealistic or cheesy and here’s why: during a lot of shots where an animal was talking the camera view would be behind them showing the character they are talking to. They also used higher angles on the animals with longer snouts because the snouts would cover much of their mouth and the emphasis wouldn’t be put on the moving mouth.

… totally brilliant! Excuse me while I start a slow applause.

CGI/Digital Effects: okay the big one for this film, and the main reason we’re all here. I mean you would have figured it out already that I think this movie was outstanding in terms of CGI effects. I’m a photographer myself, so I am somewhat aware of the always evolving possibilities for digital effects and the people working in the digital field, but I always find myself blown away every time I see a movie with digital effects. The last 5 years has just been on an entirely new level in terms of movie magic. I can’t even begin to talk about it, so instead here are some shots from the film. Have a look yourself at the amazing CGI:

… I mean, whoa. Am I right?!

On top of all of the action and success in soundtrack, editing, and CGI, this movie has a lot of heart in it. I may or may not have cried a little. The ending of this movie also made me feel really nostalgic. Do you remember in the olden days of Disney films how the story would start with a fairytale book opening to the once upon a time page and then the ending would have the book closing and you just felt complete?! Well sorry to spoil it, but this adaption ends with the book closing and a version of the original soundtrack. I was just like, “YES. Now that’s how you do a live action adaption.” Bravo Jon Favreau and bravo Disney. I’m genuinely excited for the future of live action Disney remakes because I know they’re going to only do it with 100% commitment and they will never forget the original intent of these stories from Walt Disney.

As a final note on the commitment of Disney, these live action remakes of the beloved Disney stories from our childhood are approached in a way that will not only bring the new generation of children to the theatre to experience and fall in love with our childhood favourites, but these films are done in a way in which the 90’s kids who grew up with the original cartoon animations can come back and re-experience everything without the fear of it being cheesy, or feeling too old to enjoy it.

So if you haven’t already, go see this movie!! It’s killing at the box office! HA!

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