By Abbie Hurwitz
It’s been nearly 50 years since Disney released The Jungle Book, an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories. Now, director Jon Favreau has remade this animated classic for the current generation
Just like the 1967 original, The Jungle Book revolves around Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a child who has been raised by wolves. Mowgli is uprooted from his home by the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) when the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) threatens his life. The movie maintains a balance between new ideas and aspects of the original story and film. Unlike the 1967 movie, this film is not a musical. Only the songs “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You” remain, replacing the original light-heartedness with better storytelling about themes of family and loss.
The movie struggles with animated animals. The computer generated-imagery is distracting from the movie. They don’t look quite right when they are talking, making it difficult to pay attention to what is actually occurring. Luckily, the beautiful setting of the movie does not suffer in the same way. Like the animals, the jungle is computer generated, but the CGI enhances the film rather than detracting from the plot.
Sethi doesn’t struggle working with the CGI animals; his connection to them feels genuine. He is also able to easily interact with his computer-generated environment, demonstrating strong acting despite only being 12. The movie boasts an impressive list of voice actors, including Bill Murray (Baloo) and Lupita Nyong’o (Raksha), who succeed in bringing life and emotion to their characters despite the clumsy CGI.
Unfortunately for The Jungle Book, the animals are imperative to the story, and having them look less than perfect takes away from everything else on screen. The storytelling is enough to make the film worth seeing, but if you’re expecting the 1967 film’s childish magic, then you may find yourself disappointed.