Mowgli, a young boy raised by wolves and a panther, knows nothing but the jungle. Everything changes when Shere Khan, the jungle’s most feared predator, learns of Mowgli’s presence and declares the “man cub” his prey. Mowgli decides to leave his pack to save his family from getting hurt but with danger lurking around every corner, it’s a long way to the man village…
This new Jungle Book continues Disney’s current trend of taking their old, loved animations and turning them into live action movies. This version follows both Disney’s previous plot from 1967 and the original book written by Rudyard Kipling in 1894, and uses a cast of one boy and a herd of CGI animals.
But boy, are those CGI animals great! The usual problem with CGI is that it doesn’t take much for the movie to look dated. Animation technology is constantly advancing and coming up with ways to make CGI look even more realistic, so it’s a bit of a risk.
In The Jungle Book, the CGI effects are actually done right. The animals look like animals and move like animals, at least to the extent that I never had to frown and think “wow, that doesn’t look right at all.” (Excluding all the parts where the animals talk, obviously.)
I mean, look at that Shere Khan:
I’d run if I saw that coming towards me.
Plot-wise I also enjoyed the movie. I remembered very little of the old Disney animation and I haven’t read the book, but the story flowed at a good pace and carried nicely from beginning to end. It’s a fairly basic coming of age/self-discovery plot, but most people are probably familiar with the main idea of Jungle Book already so it shouldn’t be a big surprise.
The characters were relatable, the CGI animals maybe even more so than Mowgli. I realize the actor is young and inexperienced, and I wouldn’t call his performance bad, but I wanted a bit more emotion from him at times. All voice actors did a wonderful job, especially Idris Elba as Shere Khan and Bill Murrey as Baloo.
Since it’s a Disney movie, it’s not a surprise there was also singing! The songs were familiar from the old animation, but I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed with the new Finnish translations. (It doesn’t translate back to English, I’m afraid, but if you happen to be a Finn, what do you think of translating ‘bear necessities’ as ‘peruskarhukkeet’?)
I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I expected. It was entertaining and beautiful too, and I’d recommend it to those looking for a basic movie to simply watch and enjoy.