THE JUNGLE BOOK
FILM REVIEW - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Running Length: 105 minutes
Cast: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba.
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Screenplay by: Justin Marks
Cinematography: Bill Pope
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
May appeal to the very, very young.
This remake of Disney’s 1967 animated classic is the first of two Rudyard Kipling adaptions in the pipeline. Warner Bros. have already put a significant amount of air between it and the forthcoming Andy Serkis (never one to turn down the chance of acting the monkey) mo-cap version, which has now been pushed back to 2018.
But just because Disney got past the post first doesn’t make this one a winner.
In this, director Jon Favreau’s effort for the House of Mouse, young Neel Sethi is the man-cub in the red pants. When Mowgli’s father is killed in the Indian jungle by king tiger Shere Kahn (voiced by Idris Elba), the infant is rescued and raised by a pack of wolves. For reasons never made entirely clear, Shere Kahn wants the man-cub dead so the child is sent away from the pack to preserve the fragile peace of the jungle. Under the protection of Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and Baloo (Bill Murray), the boy encounters various threats as he makes his way back to his own kind.
Bill Murray singing “The Bare Necessities” probably looked like a good on paper, and that’s where it should have stayed. Murray brings the same level of enthusiasm and energy to Baloo as he did to Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, and his sluggish, lacklustre delivery seems to have infected the rest of the vocal cast. The odd choice of rendering the characters in a hyper-photorealistic manner has sapped them of any personality whatsoever. Baloo, Bagheera and the rest of the non-human characters don’t have a fraction of the warmth or charm of their animated, 50-year-old counterparts. The whole look and feel of The Jungle Book is off. It bears Favreau’s light touch, but without the wit that he managed to bring to the Iron Man franchise.
The Jungle Book may appeal to the very, very young, but everyone else would be better off rewatching the original instead.