Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyongo'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Neel Sethi, Christopher Walken
Runtime: 111 min
The Jungle Book is the n-th adaptation of this Disney story and this one has something really different from all the others since all the locations and animals are filmed inside a studio with an actual physical set and, of course, CGI. However, the plot remains the same as in the previous installments: Mowgli, a little kid (or "man-cub", as he's referred to in the movie) is found by a panther, Bagheera, who hands him over to the wolfs to be raised by them, butShere Khan, the tiger who rules that side of the jungle, wants him dead because of some past events involving Mowgli's family. For Mowgli to save himself he has to run and go back to his people, in the man's village.
From the moment I discovered that this film was going to be 100% shot without any natural landscapes or in an actual jungle, I was also 100% sure that it'd suck. I mean, a 1h30 movie with only one real character in the middle of a CGI environment? It has to be terrible ... Or maybe not. Not at all ... It blew me away! This movie is surprisingly astonishing, near perfection I would say!
The CGI is fantastic! I got to a point where I looked at something and asked myself, "Is that CGI or is it actually real?". All the locations and characters are marvelous to look at and I watched this movie in 2D so I cannot imagine how amazing it looks in 3D. It' a delight for critics who are always so focused on every inch of technical details because there isn't a single flaw, there isn't one scene where someone could say, "Oh, those eyes are not ok" ... Clap, clap, clap, to the special effects team, they really pulled off a masterpiece!
For the technical part of the movie, I'm done, there's nothing else to say besides that it's just perfect. Nevertheless, the pros don't end here: the cast is brilliant, each character has a very suitable voice, especially Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), Shere-Khan (Idris Elba) and Baloo (Bill Murray). Both Ben Kingsley and Idris Elba bring their A-game, their voices are so powerful and deep that every scene with them is so captivating, and with Shere-Khan even more since the whole screen would focus on him when he appeared. The tiger is such a huge presence, he's scary, menacing and haunting which is great for a villain. Bill Murray played a lighter character: Baloo is the funny, lazy bear that sings the traditional songs with Mowgli and helps him be who he really his (using his "tricks"). Bill Murray's voice is perfect for Baloo and he's the one that got some laughs from me.
I don't really have a major issue with this film, the plot is well handled, it's fast-paced and the characters are all captivating and they seem so real that I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. Still, if there's someone that could have been better it's Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli. He's pretty good, but there are some scenes where he can be a little irritating and doesn't know where to look at (however, this last one I understand, it can't be easy to act the whole time with a green screen in front of you, especially for a young actor). I definitely didn't like Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a snake that straight up exposes Mowgli's past through her hypnotic tricks. She only appears in that scene in the whole movie, so I'm sure they could've revealed his past in a much better way, other than pure exposition.
This is the best adaptation of the Jungle Book so far, without a doubt! It's the movie which kids from this generation will grow up with and I'm more than happy for them. It surprised me in the most unbelievable and gorgeous way, it's an amazing CGI work! Absolutely recommend it!