Director: Jon Favreau
Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley
Release Date: August 30, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Chef”) and produced by Favreau and Brigham Taylor (executive producer of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Tomorrowland”), “The Jungle Book” is a live-action epic adventure based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories, inspired by Disney’s classic 1967 animated film and centered on Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat.
The latest iteration of ‘The Jungle Book’ follows the lovable man-cub Mowgli (Sethi) who unfamiliar with the human world in general was lovingly raised by a family of wolves who considered him one of their own. Yet when the safety of his adoptive family is threatened by the terrifying Shere Khan (Elba) Mowgli is forced to leave the only family and home he has ever known and embarks upon a quest assisted by his friend Bagheera (Kingsley). Filled with terror, adventure and some good old fashioned fun along the way, Mowgli’s journey through the jungle brings him in contact with everything from a seductive snake named Kaa (Johansson) to a lovable Bear named Baloo (Murray), along with many more unique individuals as the young animal-like man cub searches for his rightful place in the world.
Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1-2, Elf) from a screenplay penned by Justin Marks (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li), Favreau does an outstanding job at the helm of this gorgeous new interpretation of ‘The Jungle Book’ guiding this live action adventure with true passion. The film also owes its share of credit to the talented individuals who provide the voices of the beloved animal characters including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken and a number more, in addition to newcomer Neel Sethi who portrays Mowgli and is therefore also the only actor physically present on screen. Sethi may not deliver a perfect performance, yet nonetheless manages to hold his own fairly well, especially for a first time actor and considering the lack of physical material and individuals present to work off of.
Disney’s new live action reimagining (or adaption if you prefer) of ‘The Jungle Book’ is simply exceptional, so impressive in fact it’s superior to the original animated classic, at least in many aspects. While there aren’t nearly as many songs in this film (something I personally have zero issue with, as much as I may enjoy the musical numbers in the animated film) they aren’t sacrificed illogically and the more tense and realistic approach this one embraces alone is a perfect reason for not making it a musically focused movie which could only have harmed its delivery and impact which it nails with flawless beauty. Largely (and impressively) created with impressive visual effects and accomplishing the task with gorgeous perfection, this is a truly monumental experience that should have no trouble blowing the viewer away. The heartfelt and capable guidance of director Jon Favreau and the talented voice cast, along with the breathtaking visual effects utilized make ‘The Jungle Book’ a truly magical experience that any fan of the original animated classic, the novel from which they were all inspired and/or simply Disney films in general, you will definitely want to give this one a shot, chances are you’ll be absolutely thrilled that you did.
Overall, this new live action adaption of ‘The Jungle Book’ is a masterpiece in its own right and a truly gorgeous and emotionally riveting experience that any fans of Disney’s original animated masterpiece or Kipling’s novel which served as the inspiration for both will definitely want to check out. Beautifully directed by Jon Favreau and further complimented by the outstanding cast and the breathtaking visual effects that bring the movie to life, I can’t possibly recommend this phenomenal new adaption of ‘The Jungle Book’ highly enough; it’s a nearly perfect modern gem for the whole family that is not to be missed.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Jungle Book’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks wonderful as a whole and provides a sharp, detailed and truly beautiful presentation from start to finish. It holds up impressively even during the numerous fast paced and darkly lit sequences and never results in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is another fantastic high definition video presentation from Disney that should easily thrill the masses.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a crisp, clean and incredibly active audio presentation throughout. Utilizing all seven available channels constantly in order to surround the viewer with a plethora of jungle sounds including birds, animals shuffling and passing throughout the various speakers, along with plenty of aggressive moments when the tense or more active sequences come into play; yet always making certain that any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously remains clean and entirely audible. Overall, this is a top notch 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that perfectly complements the film and shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The Jungle Book’ includes a few worthwhile extras. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Jon Favreau’, along with a few behind the scenes Featurettes that include behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus more. The included Featurettes are: ‘The Jungle Book Reimagined’ (running approximately 35 minutes in length), ‘I Am Mowgli’ (running approximately 8 minutes), and ‘King Louie’s Temple: Layer By Layer’ (approximately 3 minutes).