The Jungle Book (2016) – Should I Watch It?
Indian Anakin Skywalker parkours his way through the mighty jungle as he meets numerous talking CGI animals.
Rebooting and remaking is nothing new to us moviegoers. These past few years a giant wave of them has crashed on the move shore. Some of these make sense, like most superhero franchises. As their respective comics and readers evolve, so do their characters, which opens the way for new movies. Others do not, like Clash of the Titans or Conan the Barbarian. Movies that were already great before they got remade, or had no fan-base to begin with.
Ever since the announcement of the new Ghostbusters movie, I have been mulling over the same question in my mind over and over again; why? There is nothing wrong with the original. There is no way they are going to match it, all they are going to accomplish is sully the Ghostbusters name, and even that has been done before by the sequel. Does director Paul Feig just want a quick cash grab? To be fair, it is too early to tell. But clouds of doubt have been gathering.
But this week a cloud broke open, a beam of light shone through, and The Jungle Book stood pride in its light. It is one of many classic stories that are currently being remade; this includes The Legend of Tarzan and The BFG that are coming out later this year. To be honest, I did not have a lot of faith in this movie. There was no way it could rival its 1967 counterpart. I was expecting another dim-witted CGI fest. But at that time I did not know Jon Favreau was directing this. And boy, was I was wrong.
Much of the original story has been kept intact. We follow a young boy by the name of Mowgli (Neel Sethi), an orphan raised by wolves, who has to flee from the claws and fangs of the man-hating tiger Shere Khan. There is an addition and subtraction every here and there, but it mostly follows the same storyline.
What is different, though, are the voice actors. And the right voice is crucial for bringing character to animation. There are some pretty big names attached to this movie, but that is irrelevant without the right personality match. This is where the movie truly stands out.
Bill Murray kills it as Baloo. He is funny, endearing, and the perfect example of a modern day buffoon. Idris Elba brings Shere Khan to another level. His character loses a bit of dignity and elegance, but gains a tremendous amount of ferocity. He acts and looks absolutely terrifying. But taking the crown is Christopher Walken as King Louie. His rendition of the swinging sovereign ape is entirely different from the original, but also happens to be my favourite part of the movie.
It does not matter whether you have seen the classic The Jungle Book a hundred times, or if you are new to the story. This version deserves just as much love and attention. The animation is flawless, the characters are great, and it does justice to the source material. If I had to complain about anything, it would be that Neel Sethi is just another child actor. His appearance embodies Mowgli perfectly, but his acting is underwhelming. To his credit, the movie is fully animated and some of the most veteran actors in the business have trouble performing in front of a blue screen. I wouldn’t write him off yet, but this will not be the role he will be remembered for.
Yes, watch it.
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