Review initially published with Starskify – 28th April 2016
The only life young man-cub Mowgli knows is life in the jungle. Growing up in a wolf pack family, all he knows is the way of the wild. But when the fierce tiger Shere Khan sends threats towards the youngster, he’s left with no choice but to run. Guided by Bagheera, his life-long panther protector, Mowgli travels across the jungle with intentions to return to where he belongs. Through turmoil and troubles, he soon finds the true meaning of friendship, family and where he truly belongs.
The original Jungle Book, first produced in 1967, was a classic piece of Disney cinema. Due to this high reputation, it was always going to prove a struggle to maintain the appeal when it came down to re-making the charming story into a live-action feature. As the audience is supposedly already suitably familiar with the story and characters of the tale, the piece works from that and hence focuses more on perceiving characteristics and presenting the true wonder of the jungle. This is portrayed through the use of high standard CGI effects and technological assistance. These materials allow the animals to become so realistic that you even forget that they aren’t actually real (until they begin to speak, that is). Even the evident movements are deemed as practical, especially when viewing the tiger and panther chase because of how the legs extend in the most true-to-life manner.
A Visual Spectacle
It’s the sensational visuals of this epic that need to be looked at. Spectacularly shot and structured, there is a true hyper-realistic display of the wild and animalistic forms of nature. Being an individual that would generally be somewhat disturbed by the presence of talking naturalistic animals, I could comfortably accept their human qualities after the brief trauma wore off. The imagination that is weaved throughout the aesthetic values of the feature is what truly stands out as a predominant and wonderful development from the original. How each character is displayed on screen is a true sight to behold in itself, from the glistening eyes of a satiny sleek panther to the gorgeous naturalistic fur of the slender wolves. The CGI comes across as flawless and perfectly captures the hybrid animation and live-action in an exquisite collaboration.
The pure innocence of childhood is captured in the personality and portrayal of young man cub, Mowgli. With a consistent and strong determination to find his place of belonging, along with wanting to please those around him, he encounters a range of creatures, each wanting to lure the impressionable outsider in ways that may not be considered friendly.
Then there’s Baloo. Voiced superbly by former Garfield spokesman Bill Murray, the bear is a large ball of furry joy and entertainment. Known already for his easy-going, endearing approach, the character is a stand out success, bringing humour and a optimistic outlook on situations. The dialogue is so well written, as each creature displays a unique and personal disposition towards the exotic human in their environment. Furthermore, we can evidently witness exceedingly good performances from the rest of the cast.
A renovation of a childhood classic, it’s obviously not unique or original in the world of cinema, yet that doesn’t stand in the way of total success. If we wanted to discuss the ideology of originality, this would be a prime example of how studios do wish to continue producing content that’s already familiar, yet reimagine it in such a way that captivates the original magic all over again.