The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau's live-action adaptation of Disney's The Jungle Book is both an exciting piece of cinema and a technical masterpiece that seamlessly blends computer animation and voice-acting to create a magical new version of the age-old animated classic.
Jon Favreau‘s live-action modern retelling of the Disney animated classic The Jungle Book is an exciting new film that highlights the advancements of special effects in the movie-making world, while also blending together spectacular voice work to create a magical viewing experience that demands to be seen in IMAX 3D.
The Jungle Book isn’t exactly my favorite Disney story, yet I always found myself rooting for the classic animated film when compared to the likes of the mega-popular Lion King franchise. I’m not sure why, but I just always preferred The Jungle Book‘s lighter tone and more laid back approach.
Jon Favreau‘s modern retelling of the familiar tale is no different, only this time blending the age-old story with the modern enhancements of photo-real special effects, creating living and breathing characters out of pixels and computers.
Favreau manages to bring these characters to life in a whole new way, merging excellent voice performances from people like Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba and Bill Murray with top notch CGI that makes talking animals feel just as natural as the real-life boy on screen, played with a leveled approach by newcomer Neel Sethi.
Many have complained that Sethi’s on-screen performance is weak compared to the voice work of seasoned pros, yet I found myself engaged with his character Mowgli’s antics just as much as the rest of the cast, if not occasionally more.
And that’s because Sethi brings a newcomer look and feel to the screen, dropping lines of dialogue in a way that almost feels unintentionally amateur, while also reacting to the CGI-rendered animals with a curious eye.
He doesn’t distract you from the film or tarnish the film’s ability to suck you into a film that was shot almost entirely in front of a green screen.
The Jungle Book is a work of computer magic and it succeeds so flawlessly because of Favreau’s understanding of the power that a computer holds when mushed together with the basics of storytelling through the medium of film. Favreau understands what makes good characters work and how to properly capture the emotion of a scene, regardless of budget or tools given to create a scene.
He uses the CGI to help enhance the experience and to help emerge the viewer into the world that he’s carefully constructed. The Jungle Book is just as much an experience as it is a film.
But that’s not me saying that it’s simply something that pushes the barriers of CGI and 3D presentation, because none of that matters if the film doesn’t work on a basic fundamental level.
It does and often-times it will surprise you with just how smart and funny it can be. The story of The Jungle Book follows an orphaned boy as he lives amongst animals in a jungle, slowing starting to discover his place in the world as he’s faced with the concept of going back to human civilization or staying and truly becoming the animal that was always meant to be, which is that of a human-cub and not a wolf or a lion or a tiger.
There’s lots of other stuff at play, yet Favreau manages to keep the film light and approachable, yet always engaging for both kids and adults. This stems from the original film, but is only made all the better through the cast that Favreau is able to assemble and the techniques that he uses to help make the film both a wowing example of how to properly use special effects to better a film and how to simply tell a good story.
Favreau may have stumbled a bit with Iron Man 2, but he rebounded quickly with Chef and now continues to prove his pros as a filmmaker and storyteller with The Jungle Book. He smartly balances that fine line of technology and art, never letting the film’s sizable budget or technology suck him in.
Directors like James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis and even Peter Jackson to an extent have gotten caught up in the world of special effects, occasionally letting that bleed onto and all over the films that they were trying to make, yet Favreau somehow manages to keep everything organized and balanced, using the tools given to him and the resourcefulness that he’s gained over the years to craft a film that’s mighty entertaining and an absolute blast to be apart of.
The Jungle Book is a thrilling adventure that puts you smack-dab in the middle of the action, thanks to its next-level special effects that are immersive and engaging and its well-rounded story that’s full of exciting new takes on characters that you may or may not have grown to love over the years. The Jungle Book is Disney taking an old property and giving it new life that will stand proudly as its own film, yet remind newcomers of the classic story that inspired it.