I grew up on the 1967 animated The Jungle Book and to this day, I still love watching it as an adult. There was a remake back in 1994 as well as a prequel movie and to me, neither one was that good and did not have that heart. Then there was a sequel to the animated movie back in... 2002, I think. And it's not that good either and actually didn't even need to exist. So how does our newest take on the story hold up?
2016's The Jungle Book is absolutely, tremendously spectacular. It is the best since the 1967 movie, maybe better and it's also Disney's best live action remake to date. It is clear that Jon Favreau has a great deal of respect for this story, it's characters and the lore behind it all.
The cast is made up of so many greats from Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray as Bagheera the panther and Baloo the sloth bear to Idris Elba and Christopher Walken as the evil Shere Khan and the ever so strange King Louie. We are also introduced to newcomer child actor Neel Sethi who literally carries the weight of this entire story while everything and everybody else is completely CGI. And he does a damn good job doing it.
The CGI is also flawless. There is nothing seen that doesn't feel completely fake. You immediately get lost in this world of beauty and amazement and are never once taken out of it. Jon Favreau has practically knocked James Cameron off his VFX throne.
To top this all off, I want to say that this movie does a fairly good job of looking back on the original movie but not doing it so much that it feels like a complete retelling of the same story. Did the songs need to be there? No, but it doesn't hurt the movie in any way and adds some lightheartedness compared to the suspense and darkness that surrounds most of this film. And there are just enough twists in the story that help to propel it on it's own, ending with Mowgli staying in the jungle with his wolf pack family and friends Baloo and Bagheera after Shere Khan is defeated once and for all.
This movie nails it all. The heart, the story, the characters, the visuals, the themes, the music, absolutely everything. Jon Favreau has done it! And I'm excited for the sequel.