The Jungle Book (2016) Review

The Jungle Book (2016)

Directed by Jon Favreau

Based on The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Starring: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Neel Sethi

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Jungle Book stars and introduces Neel Sethi as Mowgli, an orphaned human boy who, guided by his animal guardians, sets out on a journey of self-discovery while evading the threatening Shere Khan.

My Opinion:

(FYI – I’ve never read the book so can’t make any comparisons to it)

I actually wasn’t all that bothered about watching this one when I saw the trailer. I of course love Disney’s 1967 The Jungle Book. Who doesn’t?! It’s one of my top ten animated Disney movies (I did rank every single one I’ve ever seen HERE in the early days of my blog – I really need to update that list). And it’s one of the absolute best for songs (two of them made my list of My Top Ten Disney Songs. I love making Disney lists).

Anyway! I’m a big fan of the Disney classics and just didn’t really see the necessity (ha) of making this “live action” version. However, it’s pretty good. It could never replace the animated classic for me and I’m mighty pissed off that this new version has a higher IMDB rating than the 1967 film but, oh well – it’s an enjoyable film & its child star (Neel Sethi) does a really great job.

First of all, the CGI in this is spectacular. You have to remind yourself that Sethi was actually acting alone during these scenes – they just look so real. So you have to give the kid extra credit for that! A few bits didn’t look quite right but, overall, I’d have to say that nothing really threw me out of the movie the way that bad CGI can sometimes. Well, nothing as far as the “look” of the film threw me out of it… Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the voice acting.

Of all the animals, I especially loved Bagheera. He looked amazing and, just as importantly, he was voiced very professionally by Ben Kingsley. By saying that I mean this: you don’t go “WOW – that’s Ben Kingsley!” the second you hear Bagheera talk. In fact, we didn’t know until the end credits who actually voiced that character and that’s the way it SHOULD be if Disney wish to make their films timeless classics. I’d say the same for Lupita Nyong’o’s Raksha as well. Raksha was probably my second favorite animal character and I again think a big part of that was down to the fact that I wasn’t picturing the real-life voice actor the entire time.

I went to see this with extended family & seemed to enjoy it more than anyone else in the group. I’m glad I didn’t review it right away, though, as I liked it a little less the more I thought about it (I saw it a week & a half ago). My hubby was especially not a fan. He’s always pooping on my enjoyment of things! I’m pretty damn picky on movies but, believe me, he’s far worse. I do see his point, though, as his biggest complaint is that this movie felt like “The Bill Murray Show”.

I doubt there’s anyone out there who doesn’t love Baloo from the 1967 The Jungle Book. I suppose it’s a difficult job to voice such a beloved character but Bill Murray voices him in that typical Bill Murray way of his: he voices Baloo as Bill Murray. I guess that’s good if you absolutely love him and go to this wanting to see a Bill Murray movie but that’s not what I personally want from any Disney film. I don’t want to picture the actors. I want to get lost in the world created by the movie which, in this case, really did look pretty fantastic. But then Baloo came along acting all Bill Murray-like. And I also adore King Louie from the 1967 film (I actually prefer I Wan’na Be Like You to The Bare Necessities and love that part of the film). But who voices King Louie? Christopher Walken! Are there many voices more identifiable than his?! He did actually tone things down a bit in this but I still couldn’t help but picture King Louie with a gun to his head & talking about sticking a watch up his ass. 

My Daughter’s Opinion: I was surprised that she didn’t seem to like this one very much. Her first comment afterwards was “How long was that? It felt like it was on for aaaaaaages!” so that’s clearly not a good sign (it’s 1 hour 46 minutes, FYI). So I asked her how she liked it compared to the other movies she’s gone to this year & she said it’s last after Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootropolis, Pan & Goosebumps. Man, she’s harsh. But I’m not too upset – this hopefully means she’ll always prefer the superior 1967 film. ๐Ÿ™‚

Summary:

If you pretend the 1967 film doesn’t exist, this is a very enjoyable family Disney film that looks absolutely amazing. A really good semi-live-action Disney film… (but not fully live action – it’s honestly so impressive that I keep thinking of it only as live action). The problem, though, is that the animated classic does exist so it’s impossible to not compare the two – especially as they’re so similar and this one does contain the two main songs from the animated film, which I was happy to hear yet at the same time wasn’t sure that they worked in this version. Plus they were sung by Murray & Walken and I’ve already said how I disliked their voices in this. Oh, actually – Scarlett Johansson was equally annoying as Kaa. That bit really didn’t work for me at all.

The other problem, and not everyone will care about this, is that you wouldn’t exactly want to have this one on if a two-year-old is in the room so it’s not as “entire family” friendly as the animated film. It looks far too real and many scenes are very intense for anyone really young.

Mainly, though, I’m just disappointed that they ruined the chance to make this yet another timeless Disney classic simply because they wanted to stick some big names in it. I expect that from other studios, such as DreamWorks, but not from Disney or Pixar. Okay – I’m not saying my two favorite (now joined) studios never use big names because, yes, they always do. But they usually first make sure that those voices suit the characters whereas this time it felt like they hired the actors without any thought as to if they were appropriate. It’s a shame as I think this would be pretty fantastic without those famous voice distractions. But, either way, it’s still not the animated classic so I don’t care too much anyway as that’s the one I’ll continue to watch for years. Interestingly, both my daughter and husband preferred Maleficent as well as the live-action Cinderella. Hmm. I’m not yet sure how I’d rank the three of them but I’ve given them all the exact same rating.

My Rating: 7/10

Oh! Oh! The baby wolves were adorable. Forgot to mention that. ๐Ÿ™‚

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27 thoughts on “The Jungle Book (2016) Review

    • Well… I don’t know. It’s really hard to say! I think most people DO like this one & it truly does look fantastic so it’s worth seeing on the big screen for that. But it’s not exactly going to be an all-time favorite of mine or anything. It’s quite similar to the Disney version the way the live action Cinderella was so you might like it. : )

      • I actually just booked the ticket to this one because I got one free and there’s not much to see in the cinemas at the moment (at least here in Finland).

  1. haven’t seen maleficent or this one yet, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of Cinderella. That being said, can’t wait to see this one! nice job as always!

    • Thanks! I think you’ll probably like this one okay. It’s good but I already have my preferred version of The Jungle Book. : ) Not sure you’d like Maleficent but I thought that was fairly good.

  2. I wasn’t too bothered by this one, either, but my fiance really wanted to see it, and I’ll never say no to a cinema trip. I LOVED Bill Murray as Baloo, but I honestly can’t argue with your thoughts on that one. I wasn’t a fan of Christopher Walken as King Louie, he was far too different from the original version for me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    – Allie

    • Well, I’m glad you were happy with Murray! : ) I like him just fine so I was able to handle his voice but I think anyone who hates him may be put off. Yeah, I was more disappointed with King Louie. I love the original King Louie! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  3. Great, fair review Miss Mutant! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not overly excited to watch this but I daresay I will do on DVD and most probably enjoy it. I don’t mean to sound negative it’s just not a move I’m excited about.

    I don’t like the idea of, as your hubby said, the “Bill Murray show” though and I really don’t like the idea of him voicing Baloo as Bill Murray! And I like Bill Murray!!!!

    Let me ask this – will Bill Murray where a coconut bra disguise and do a sing & dance routine only for the disguise to fall off and disintegrate at the very same time?!!!! That is literally my favourite bit of Disney’s The Jungle Book lol.

    The Chrisopher Walken voice sounds dodgy too. I guess they can see more tickets with all of these stars draped over the posters but still……is it the right decision?

    But the imagery and CGI does look incredible and I’m sure it’s an emotional ride too ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Great review! Our cinema was packed with children, parents obviously thinking the children would enjoy it. I think it went way over their heads – it is a bit adult for any child under, I don’t know, 10? The voices too – Scarlett Johannson and Ben Kingsley were quite good but you are quite right – it became all about who were voicing the characters rather than the story itself. But the CGI was gorgeous – it is a beautiful film to look at!

    • It really looked amazing! : ) I did enjoy it… Just didn’t LOVE it. I’m not sure why my kid didn’t go for it. She likes plenty of slightly grown-up movies (she’s obsessed with Star Wars!). ๐Ÿ˜€ I think maybe having no girl characters didn’t help. Plus it’s not a new story to her. Well, we still have the original animated version! : )

  5. I plan on watching this with my son when it’s out on bluray but not before. I’m skeptial about these real disney adaptations but I feel like you need to remember these films are being made for the new generation, not the old. Nothing will beat the classic animation for sure. Great reveiw! Dissapointed to hear the voice acting didn’t add to the film.

    • Thanks! : ) I hope you get some enjoyment out of it as well as your son. But I do believe I enjoyed this much more than my daughter! I know they feel the need to remake these for a new generation and they occasionally get things right. Most of the time I don’t think it’s really necessary, though. The one I’m curious about is the Pete’s Dragon remake. I’m very fond of the original but will admit that it’s VERY dated & that being updated may not hurt that one. : )

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