Did anybody else not know that Jon Favreau directed movies? I realized he had a lot of talent after seeing him act in Chef, but until I saw The Jungle Book, I had no idea that he directed movies like “Iron Man”, “Elf”, and “Cowboys and Aliens”. Not only are his movies diverse in genre, but also in quality.
As for The Jungle Book, I thought it was really good. Considering the low quality of most remakes and live action reboots these days, this movie is as high quality as we can hope for.
The voice acting is one of the biggest highlights of this movie. Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, and Lupita Nyong’o all do fantastic jobs and I could tell that the personality of each actor factored into the look of each animal. Somehow, the weakest performance was from Scarlett Johansson. This wasn’t because the voice acting was bad; it was good. However, her voice acting for Kaa did not really personify the animal quite like everyone else’s did.
The only real live person they used for more than one minute was the child actor they used for Mowgli, and the quality of his performance was inconsistent. There were scenes where I thought he did a fantastic job, and other times where I thought his acting was distractingly bad. However, considering he didn’t bomb his role like many child actors do, I get the feeling that most people aren’t going to be bothered by this.
The visuals in this movie are absolutely stunning. When Bagheera and Mowgli are walking through the jungle, I was highly impressed with just how great the visual rendering was. The quality of the visuals hit its peak during the beginning acts of the movie, but I cannot think of a time where the picture was ever bad. This is especially impressive considering the majority of the shots (if not all of them) were done in a Hollywood green screen room.
I also really enjoyed the extra bit of effort they put in this movie here and there. The biggest example I can think of is that whenever Mowgli runs through the jungle in nothing but a loin cloth, they actually show his body get scraped and bruised instead of having him get through the entire movie unscathed. Bits and pieces like this not only help me to be more submerged into the world a movie creates, but it also shows the care and effort put in by the director and the crew.
I also extremely appreciate that the movie really held back the “cute factor”. In most kids films today (Zootopia or Kung Fu Panda 3 for instance), it seems like they can’t help themselves but demand everything have some sort of cute factor. They used cuteness for comedy and punchlines, for visual effects, or for the sake of just being cute. This made both movies overwhelmingly unlikable because they did not show a great amount of self-awareness, self-restraint, or general thoughtfulness into the execution of anything.
But The Jungle Book uses “the cute factor” (mainly through the baby wolf cubs) only when necessary, and it made those scenes much more enjoyable and valuable.
The Jungle Book seemed to want to create a perfect balance between realistic looking animals and jungles, and fantasy story telling (because things need to be slightly surreal if animals are going to talk to a child in English rather than kill him for food). For the most part, they capture this balance perfectly. However, they decided to take two of the most famous songs from the original Jungle Book animated movie and put them into this one. The songs in the original Jungle Book are light-hearted and cartoony, and that’s exactly how they come off in this movie. However, when the tone of the movie does not have the same cartoony feel because of how realistic everything looks, the song bits seem really disjointed and wildly unnecessary.
Not only did the songs not fit the tone of the movie, they did not really blend with the rest of the soundtrack. Everything else in the movie seemed to be working against those songs, and I really wish they decided not to put them in.
I also found parts of the final act of the movie to be cheesy and laughably cliche.
Overall, The Jungle Book was a very pleasant movie to watch. The visuals, the voice acting, and the general presentation of the movie delivers so much to the viewing experience. This movie can appeal to almost anybody, so check it out if you get the chance, and I’m giving this movie a 7 out of 10.