Like Kenneth Branagh‘s live-action adaptation of Cinderella, The Jungle Book owes more to Disney’s classic cartoon and the much-loved text that the film is based on. Using state of the art CGI, Rudyard Kipling’s iconic characters are brought to life through awe-inspiring animation that breathes new colour into a family favourite.
is excellent as Mowgli, the young boy who’s peaceful upbringing in the jungle is quickly threatened by the fierce tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba
) because he’s an outcast. The black panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley
), who’s kept a watchful eye over the boy, takes it upon himself to protect Mowgli at any cost, leading to their run-in with Baloo (Bill Murray
) the bear. The trio end up on the run leading to an explosive ending that questions and challenges the jungle hierarchy. The rest of the voice cast is rounded off by Scarlett Johansson
as the seductive snake Kaa, Lupita N’yongo
as Mowgli’s brave adopted mother, the wolf Raksha, Giancaro Esposito
as the leader of the wolf pack Akela and Christopher Walken
as the mobster King Louie.
But among the A-list voice cast, it’s Sethi that’s the stand out, perfectly capturing the presence of his animated predecessor. From the first moments that we see him playfully chasing the baby wolves and mentor Bagheera, Sethi is immediately admirable, charming and funny as the young boy. From the opening chase we are taken into a lavish, scenic world where the landscapes are almost dreamy and majestic. As the story progresses, director Jon Favreau
takes us further into the jungle, into a darker world that’s perhaps more true to Kipling’s original text but remembers to keep the laughs in the form of hilarious one-liners. He pushes the boundaries of CGI to create friends and foes, and it’s easy to escape into the jungle with Mowgli. Feeling nostalgic, Favreau even throws in classic songs from the animation, ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wan’na Be Like You’ while ‘Trust In Me’ performed by Johansson appears during the end credits. This adaptation hits all the right notes.