Another year, another live-action remake of a beloved Disney animated classic. Except in this case, I have never really had much of a strong personal attachment to The Jungle Book (though my 2-year-old niece who is obsessed with it is another story,)...so I didn't feel like I had impossible expectations like say with Maleficent or Cinderella. So was the film easier to please because I didn't hold the original so dear? Maybe, but it also left me feeling ambivalent whether they got things right or wrong. I wasn't excited about nods or furious about flubs. I kinda just sat somewhere in the middle for most of the film. But some things WERE a little glaring, and other things were somewhat delightful! For me, the good outweighed the bad, but let's take a closer look at both.
First and foremost, The Jungle Book has got some amazing animation and the 3D is probably the top reason to see this movie. It feels like you are in the jungle with these characters, and it can certainly be a ride! There were a lot of sweet moments, and just incredibly detailed moments where little things were constantly going in the frame. It also felt refreshing to see a movie like this, with the animals taking the stage (like Planet of the Apes for example,) so the action sequences aren't in your typical blockbuster. *Almost* all of the key moments are included, minus my nieces favorite part with a certain water fetching girl...which I thought was a mistake not to include! But the ape temple sequence is really cool, and the lovable Bare Necessities is sure there. So with all that in mind, most people will come out fairly pleased! But, as I alluded to earlier, there were some things that were lacking.
The most important point to address is that the child actor Neel Sethi, who portrays Mowgli has to basically carry this entire movie on his shoulders, and I'm not sure he's always up to the task. It seems fairly obvious at times that he's a child alone in a blue screen filled room being told directions on what to do. I got taken out of the movie a few times because of this, and also because of some of the majorly stiff voice acting from the cast. A lot of scenes, (the ones with the wolves in particular come to mind...) where it seems really obvious to me that these are just people in a recording booth, reading lines directly from a script. I couldn't get as lost in it as I wanted...or really embrace it, but then usually the visual aspect would pull me back in. Some of the choices I'm not sold on at all...like Christopher Walken as King Louie made me laugh for the wrong reasons, and Bill Murray, while always great....just didn't fit Baloo to me. The old Baloo just seemed so much more effortless in comparison. And Scarlett Johansson was kind of an odd choice for Kaa.
This movie is a little too scary for really little kids, so it will be interesting to see what audience really embraces it. I enjoyed the film, but from such glowing reviews beforehand, I expected it to be on par with last year's Cinderella. I don't think it was, but it was certainly better than Maleficent! All in all, I'd say The Jungle Book is fun but flawed. EMILY RATING: 7.5/10