Director: Jon Favreau Writers: Justin Marks Stars: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley
“Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he’s ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a no-nonsense panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure”
A live action version of The Jungle Book was not a concept which set my heart ablaze. The 1967 version had been a staple of my childhood, with the various songs embedded in my unconscious forever. Why would we need a non-animated version? But it emerges this updated, CGI-filled version is every bit as joyous and fun as the sixties film. In fact, the live action coupled with the incredibly realistic CGI animals adds a whole new level to the tale, with some scenes becoming plain terrifying.
Neel Sethi is fantastic as Mowgli, leaving you forgetting his was likely interacting with just a green screen and tennis balls on sticks. Idris Elba’s Shere Khan becomes the stuff of nightmares, as he holds Mowgli’s wolf family hostage, threatening the incredibly cute pups and throwing a long shadow over the bright jungle. It’s Bill Murray who really steals the show, with his lethargic charm seemingly perfectly suited to the honey-obsessed Baloo.
The Jungle Book is a bright, audacious, visual spectacle, a nostalgia trip for grown-ups while doubling as a tale of adventure and terror for younger audience members.
9 out of 10