(My Youtube review)
I know some of you have been wondering when I would finally post my Jungle Book review here on the blog. I posted my youtube review on Thursday night, so make sure you are subscribed to both the blog and channel because sometimes I don’t have time to update both at same time (I’m only one person friends 🙂 ).
I also wanted to wait to see the Jungle Book a second time on IMAX today before posting this review. I find on these big films it is often helpful to see the movie twice just to make sure my first read was accurate. I can confidently say I had the same experience in both screenings, so I’m pretty assured about my feelings.
It’s a good movie. I liked it a lot. Is it perfect? No but what movie is? Let’s talk about the pros and cons.
The biggest pro is the world building. Especially in IMAX 3D it was such an immersive experience. I don’t think since Avatar I have been so immersed in a world at the theater. Maybe Gravity might be a good comparison. This is made all the more remarkable by the fact that it is all digitally created- down to the smallest blade of grass! Recently I have seen some terrible green screen work in films like In the Heart of the Sea or Gods of Egypt. Not here. There is no other word to describe the visuals but amazing. This is one to see on the big screen in 3D (which I almost never recommend). Trust me on this one.
The voice talent is also all superb. Everyone from Bill Murray as Baloo, to Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, and Idris Elba as Shere Khan nails their characters. It doesn’t feel like they are copying the iconic performances of the animated film either. They are their own characters both in the script and vocal performances.
I also really enjoyed the darker take on the story because even though I love the original animated film I admit it I like it mostly for the songs. This is more accurate to the book and particularly the beginning and ending I was really engaged with the story.
Mowgli is also a much more empathetic character (less whiny) than in the animated film. Speaking of Mowgli, Neal Sethi is excellent in the part. To think he did all his acting in a green screen room with puppets is remarkable, but even without that knowledge it’s a good, heartfelt performance.
Now to a few things that didn’t work for me. Both times I saw the film I got a little bit sleepy in the middle. Particularly in the sequences with Baloo and King Louie. I loved Bill Murray as Baloo but just the story kind of stalled there. The King Louie stuff was almost one too many villains and he was a little bit too mean for my taste. He’s supposed to be a smooth talker and he’s more of a bully in this film.
The other problem I had was in this section. This is where we get both of the songs- Bear Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You. I love both of those songs in the animated musical but in this darker version (especially with King Louie) it didn’t really fit to have them break into song. It kind of took me out of the movie to see them singing all of the sudden.
Once Mowgli goes back to the wolves then it starts to pick back up again and I was engaged but I’ve seen it twice and both times that middle section lost my interest. Sorry…
The other concern is that it is very scary. I know the animated film isn’t perfect but at least it is something you could watch with your entire family. There is no way I could take my 6 and 7 year old nieces to this film. Shere Khan is very scary and attacks and kills characters. Louie is very scary and Kaa for her brief moments is scary. It kind of bums me out a little bit that it can’t be more of a family film but oh well.
Finally, there will be some people who will be annoyed at some stuff that is missing. Kaa is only in the film for about 5 minutes. The elephants are briefly seen. No vultures or their cheerful singing. I am willing to forgive and accept this new version but that may annoy some purists.
It might sound like I didn’t like the film which is untrue. I did like it. It was a magnificent experience, and I thought it was all done extremely well. But for me I still think Cinderella was better. It was more engaging from start to finish with no middle act lull. Plus, it was more consistent in tone throughout, and I just thought it was very magical. I also like that it is a family film that teaches a lovely message of kindness and courage to young girls. This film excludes those young kids because it is so scary.
But for a visual experience and for something new I definitely recommend seeing Jungle Book. I think you will really enjoy it.
Overall Grade B+