The Jungle Book


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Jungle Book
"The film has adventure at its heart and excitement in its pocket."

OK, we're dealing with royalty here. The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling's novel for children, was Walt's last hands-on feature cartoon as well as a Top 10 Film Of All Time for tens of thousands of kids, now big fat grown people wrapped in their nostalgia blankets.

Who dares mess with a legend? Jon Favreau, that's who. He used to be a writer/actor (Swingers) and then a director (Iron Man). Now he takes the helm of a remake no one thought necessary, losing the musical interludes (mostly) and having a real live boy (Neel Sethi) play Mowgli in a CGI world.

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The result is astonishing. It remains closer to Kipling than Disney and is genuinely thrilling - too scary for the under fives? The tiger, Shere Khan, whose sole purpose is to kill the man child, is more threatening than anything from The Lion King.

Dissing convention these animals behave like animals, not humans dressed up, and are so realistic you catch your breath. Because of this it takes time to get used to the idea that they speak English. The bear, Baloo, is an exception. Voiced by the great Bill Murray he becomes the unifier bringing make believe and never believe together.

Essentially a rites of passage for Mowgli who has to leave his comfort zone in the wolf pack and journey forth to the man village on the other side of the jungle, the film has adventure at its heart and excitement in its pocket.

Visually stunning the experience has the courage of its conviction and Favreau succeeds beyond all reasonable doubt. It is best not to make comparisons with the 1967 version otherwise you'll start asking awkward questions about the fabulous jazz score and those nagging familiar songs.

Think of this as a stand alone masterclass in the art of modern animation, a combination of technical wizardry and unfettered imagination.

Reviewed on: 23 Apr 2016
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Rudyard Kipling's classic children's book is given a post-Disney modern interpretation with a real boy and CGI animals that look more real than the breath they take away
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Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Justin Marks, based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling

Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling, Brighton Rose

Year: 2016

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


EIFF 2017

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