Move over Richard Parker. Look out for Shere Khan!
Indyfreak - wrote on 10/07/16
Shere Khan is back and he's never been more terrifying!
Disney's latest live action remake of yet another of their own animated classic is the best one yet. Paying respect to what made the original animated film so much fun while daring to go into far darker territory, The Jungle Book is a visual masterpiece and an excellent adventure film for families to enjoy.
The CGI for the jungle environment and the animal characters is flat out outstanding. It surpasses Life of Pi and in some parts it gives Avatar a run for its money. The beautifully rendered rainforest that the characters call home is vibrant, lush, and colorful. This is the absolute front runner for all the Best Visual Effects categories this awards season. The action scenes are bigger in scale and for a PG rated movie are actually quite intense.
The voice work done by the all star cast is well executed for the most part. Bill Murray is as affable as ever as the laidback but loyal Baloo while Ben Kingsley is solid as Bagheera. The best casting is Idris Elba as the vicious and bloodthirsty tiger Shere Khan who is one of the more menacing villains to appear in a children's movie since Voldemort. I always found Christopher Walken an odd choice for King Louie but it's so strange and kooky you can't help but laugh at it.
The actual human star of the movie Neel Sethi is good; especially considering he's just acting against a green screen for what appears to be 95% of the time. His interactions with the animal characters and his surroundings are believable for the most part. Compared to the original cartoon, his conflict with being raised in the jungle while still being a human child is actually explored further. It helps that it ties in with a broader theme of self acceptance and friendship (this is a Disney movie after all).
As for anything wrong with the movie, there were a few darker moments that are so shocking they threatened to take me out of the movie. This happens for some lighter elements which are a relief but seem out of place; there is a musical bit that comes straight out of nowhere. Such moments seem less a matter of screenwriting issues and more corporate interference to remind everyone this is based off a cartoon. Also, Scarlett Johannson is completely wasted as Kaa. These flaws are overcome by the film's stronger elements like the acting, the visuals, and the story's heartwarming message.