‘The Jungle Book’ is a visually impressive revival, but adds nothing new

April 18, 2016

Eleanor Sturt
esturt@uccs.edu

RATING: 4/5 stars

The recycling of movies is an old concept, but the ability to create a live-action jungle in a computer-based studio is a new idea that came with the evolution of technology.

Because of this technology, “The Jungle Book” is a visual spectacle, created almost entirely using visual effects. Fans of the original movie will not be disappointed, as the movie veers very little from Disney’s 1967 version.

A larger focus on the darker aspects of the story was the only significant difference. From Scarlett Johansson’s alluring Kaa to Idris Elba’s snarling, villainous Shere Kahn, the revival added a darker lens to the well-known cheery story.

Baloo’s beloved song “The Bear Necessities,” makes an appearance, as Bill Murray giving a brief break from the action. The filmmakers blended it well into the movie, making it a moment of connection between Baloo and Mowgli rather than a sing-a-long, musical number.

But another famous song, “I Wan’na Be Like You” seemed abrupt in the revival. It interrupted the otherwise intense scene, only to give Christopher Walken’s creepy performance of King Louis more screen time.

One interesting aspect of the film is the audio. The actor’s voices were mixed with natural vocals of the animals portrayed, stripping the feeling of a humanoid voice behind the animal, leaving the audience with raw jungle calls.

It gave the movie a far more natural feeling, making the talking animals seem almost normal.

Although the audience mostly hears the actors rather than seeing them, the audience is treated to one live actor: Neel Sethi.

Sethi played a convincing Mowgli that is very similar to the one seen in the animated movie.

The delivery of some of his lines seemed stilted, and his words did not always pop as would have been desired, but Sethi’s nimble limbs and loose nature on camera nailed Mowgli’s carefree attitude seen in the 1967 version.

On top of that, the actor also seems like he was genuinely having fun, which adds another element entirely.

The movie was visually satisfying with the bright colors of the jungle foliage and the fiery contrast of the coveted “red flower.”

With all the beautiful visuals, Disney may have gotten swept away with the visual idea and forgot to ask the most important question: Why remake the original film?

Disney’s recent take on “Cinderella” brought more ideas to that timeless story.

But “The Jungle Book” added no original thought to the animated version of the movie released in 1967.

If movie goers wanted to be challenged by a new take on the story, they were greatly disappointed. But if they were anticipating a colorful, visual spectacle with a star-studded cast, this was the movie for them.

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