The latest incarnation of Rudyard Kipling’s 19th century novel is a 21st century spectacle. The Jungle Book is a thrilling ride destined to entertain audiences for years to come. Director Jon Favreau has honed a splendid live-action action adventure film that not only incorporates the touchstones of the beloved animated version, but retains the dramatic elements and themes of Kipling’s writing.
A young boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is lost in the wild jungles of Africa. He is found as an infant and raised as a member of a selective Wolf Pack. The boy’s biggest threat is a cruel tiger named Shere Khan (Idris Elba) who plots against Mowgli. But all is not bad in the jungle, Mowgli is surrounded by the likes of a free spirited bear, Baloo (Bill Murray). Forced to leave his pack, Mowgli sets out on an adventurous journey throughout the jungle, aided by panther-father-figure Bagheeraand (Ben Kingsley). They face the hazardous games of a seductive python (Scarlett Johansson), and encounter the crazed King Louis (Christopher Walken), who is obsessed with learning the secrets of fire.
Of the recent live-action adaptation of Disney cartoons The Jungle Book is the greatest achievement thus far. I was never a fan of the original, although its beloved, this translation is extremely successful in merging hallmarks from the animated feature and new-age cutting technology to create a fascinating environment and world. The added touches of adults, the reference to Brando and Apocalypse Now, are sublime and most pleasing. The Jungle Book is one of the best films of 2016.
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley