‘The Jungle Book’ Isn’t Just a Technical Triumph, it’s Fantastic Storytelling

GameStop, Inc.


When Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland surprisingly took in over a billion dollars worldwide, it created a new subgenre for Walt Disney Studios – the live action remake of their animated classics. In the intervening years, the Mouse House has released Malficent and Cinderella to worldwide box office appeal. The latest animated classic to get the live action treatment is The Jungle Book. This modern adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic book is directed by Jon Favreau, and is a stunning technical marvel that has a strong emotional center. The Jungle Book is the finest of Disney’s recent live action adaptations, one of the few films that still has the movie magic that leaves the audience wondering, “How did they do that?”

The story isn’t much different than you remember: Mowgli (played by newcomer Neel Sethi) was raised in the jungle by a pack of wolves led by Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o). The young boy commonly referred to as the “man cub” was discovered by the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), who put the child in the care of the wolves. With an overriding hatred of man, the nefarious tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) wants the young boy killed. In order to save the young boy, Bagheera and Akela need to return the young boy to the human village on the outskirts of the jungle. However, an attack from Shere Khan separates Mowgli from Bagheera, and the young boy must survive in the jungle all on his own, but not for long as he quickly befriends the bear Baloo (Bill Murray). Mowgli and Baloo quickly build a friendship, and leaves the young boy yearning to keep his home in the jungle. Of course, that’s no easy when the bloodthirsty Shere Khan is out for the young boy’s blood.

In all honesty, to call The Jungle Book a live action film is a bit misleading. Aside from the young Neel Sethi, practically everything on screen is computer generated – this film is only slightly less animated than the 1967 animated classic. Not that it really matters, as Favreau has crafted an immersive world, one that’s easy to get wrapped up in. The emotive faces of the CG animals is astounding, the kind of work that defies the simplest explanation of “it was computers.” At once, these creatures are photorealistic and anthropomorphized: Shere Khan looks absolutely terrifying, while some of the young wolf cubs are ridiculously cute. Favreau pulls off quite the balancing act with the film’s overriding artifice with a feeling of realism.

As the sole human in the film, Neel Sethi is a fairly typical child actor. He’s wide-eyed and not always naturalistic in his line delivery. In that way that child actors he can be annoying, he sometimes is. But Neel Sethi isn’t forced to carry the burden of The Jungle Book, and his deficiencies as a young actor (he is just a kid) are mitigated by the excellent casting of the animal cast. There’s probably no better actor to portray this version of Baloo than Bill Murray, and the legendary comedic actor gives an astounding vocal performance. Much in the same way is the vocal performance of Idris Elba as Shere Khan. When the villainous tiger appears onscreen he makes you squirm in your seat. When Elba’s booming voice comes from the big cat’s menacing visage, the chills are actively crawling down your spine.

The Jungle Book also features slightly updated versions of some classic songs from the 1967 version. The young Mowgli and Baloo collaborate on singing “Bare Necessities,” which gives the audience a nice whiff of nostalgia without becoming overbearing. Don’t expect the ghost of Louis Prima to croon out “I Wanna Be Like You.” In this updated version, King Louie and his crooning number is performed by Christopher Walken, and the set piece that follows the song is among one of the film’s finest moments. Also returning from the prior incarnations is the slithering snake Kaa (voiced by the sultry Scarlett Johansson). Time and time again, The Jungle Book is a wholly modern work with its roots in the past, yet never relying on the audience’s past connection to do the heavy lifting for the story.

The script by Justin Marks is remarkable in its ability to create real emotional weight from its CG-creatures. Not only does it bring up the themes of nature versus nurture, but we’re given reason after reason to understand why these character care about each other, which gives the viewer a reason to care about the characters. There’s also a strong environmentalist streak to this updated version of The Jungle Book, with the destructive nature of man constantly under scrutiny. The thematic and emotional undercurrent to Favreau’s strong visual storytelling make The Jungle Book as compelling as its ever been.

Nothing is going to stop Disney from churning out updated versions of its animated classics. As long as they keep turning a profit, they’ll keep pumping them out. But as long as the updates are as strongly constructed as The Jungle Book, I’ll eagerly await the next one. As he did with Iron Man, Favreau once again proves that he’s a director capable taking on massive blockbuster material, blending the spectacle with a strong human element. With a great script, great vocal cast, and incredible direction, The Jungle Book is a triumph for Disney and Favreau. The Jungle Book encapsulates the magic of the movies, with a story that works for both young and old, and effects that bring back the wonder of yesteryear.

The Jungle Book
  • Overall Score

The Verdict

A technical marvel with a resounding emotional element, The Jungle Book is a triumph for Jon Favreau and Walt Disney Studios.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Sheep and Wolves: Pig Deal is Screening at Catalina Film Festival

Originally a Russian language animated feature and a sequel to the...

Showrunners Moshe Zonder & Dana Eden Discuss Tehran on Apple TV+

Showrunners Moshe Zonder (Fauda, Loners) & Dana Eden  (Yom Haem, Magpie)...

‘Sweet Pain’ Picks Up Distribution – Trailer

Sweetwater Pictures, Aved Productions and Bruise Productions are pleased to announce...

Event News Event Reviews
Martin Kove to be Honored at Catalina Island Film Festival

Great Scott! It’s Barry Bostwick shows Martin Kove no mercy in...

New Mutants Drive In
The New Mutants Drive In @ The Rose Bowl

The New Mutants Drive In at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California...

Ruth Connell of Supernatural Talks to us About Her Virutual Q&A This Weekend

Scottish born actress, Ruth Connell who played Rowena MacLeod on the...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Marvel United Review – Marvel Minis Pack Major Fun

Marvel United Review – The partnership of Marvel, CMON Games, and...

Skapp Turns Your Phone into a Skateboard

Skapp is a skateboard app that turns your phone into a...

TMNT: Mutant Madness
TMNT: Mutant Madness is Available Now!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT): Mutant Madness is available now on iOS...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Leadership Lessons From the Cockpit
Commander Guy Snodgrass Discusses His New Book ‘Topgun’s Top 10: Leadership Lessons From the Cockpit’

Flying ace and Topgun pilot, instructor and all around man’s man,...

IDW Names New Publisher & Announces Executive Promotions

From IDW Publishing – San Diego / Los Angeles, CA (September...

John Ridley’s Batman Miniseries

DC confirms John Ridley’s Batman Miniseries coming January 2021 featuring art...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Wireless Charging Grip
Powercast Wireless Charging Grip for Joy-Cons

Powercast releases over-the-air Wireless Charging Grip for Nintendo Joy-Con Controllers on Amazon...

NCOSE Interview – How to Stop Child Grooming?

How to stop grooming in toys? NCOSE Interview with Jake Roberson,...

Legends Ultimate Arcade
Legends Ultimate Arcade Machine is Back!

The Legends Ultimate Arcade Machine is back with wider availability and...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Baseball Bugs Bunny
Baseball Bugs Bunny Giveaway!

Good afternoon Nation! In celebration of the 80th Anniversary of Bugs...

Baseball Bugs Bunny
S. Preston Discusses His Minimalist Baseball Bugs MLB Artwork

S. Preston, a nationally known illustrator, is melding sports and classic...

Ric Flair Talks Some Career Highlights, Charlotte’s Recovery and Celebrity Slots

Wooo, you have no idea how eager I was to conduct...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and Endgame (kinda)

Something strange may be going on at the Wizarding school.

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and New Horizons – Endgame??

The portal was left unguarded for an hour and a half!...

Adult Continuity Presents Issue #22 This ain’t Fallout XXX

Now this could be a commentary about the travel time experienced...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Noelle Scaggs of Fitz and the Tantrums Talks ‘Concerts in Your Car’

Performing on Saturday, August 29, 2020 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds,...

Persian Singer and International Sensation Shab is ready to take on the American Music Scene

This interview was very personal to me as Shab has a...

New Single ‘Aqua’ from ‘The SpongeBob Move: Sponge On the Run Debuts Today!

From Paramount Animation – LOS ANGELES, CA (July 9th, 2020) –...