The Jungle Book Screen 13 articles

The Jungle Book

2016

The Jungle Book Poster
  • Had read nothing about this in advance, so the words "Filmed entirely in downtown Los Angeles" in the end credits made my jaw drop, inspiring retroactive awe. (I'd assumed there was plenty of CGI involved, but didn't imagine that the entire jungle had been conjured from scratch.) Might do more ooh-ing and aah-ing if I saw it again with that in mind, but then I'd have to endure Murray and Walken butchering two songs from the original, plus a lot of pretty generic kiddie adventure.

  • In an era of oppressively darkened films and needlessly complicated, over-expository revivals of preexisting properties, Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book remake is a welcome surprise. The film's frames are as bright and chromatic as those of the 1967 animated feature, with verdant backgrounds warmed by the amber glow of the sun.

  • A word about those CGI animals. Despite demurral from some critics, they seemed perfectly lifelike—even alive—to me, despite the fact that they speak English, and say things you might not expect... They are certainly as believable as Alejandro Iñárritu’s marauding grizzly bear in The Revenant... The talking animals seem more real, in any case, than Favreau’s digital jungle habitat, festooned with breathtaking waterfalls, primordial trees, and an ancient abandoned palace overgrown with vines.

  • The film is strenuous, entirely competent and unlikely to be remembered as fondly as its Disney predecessor; speaking of which, did we even need another version of The Jungle Book? The new media landscape is also a jungle – and Hollywood treads through it gingerly, a Victorian explorer in a pith helmet flanked by his two native retainers: Brand Recognition and Creative Bankruptcy.

  • Studios are in the recycling business, and while this “The Jungle Book” is lightly diverting, it is also disappointing, partly because it feels like a pumped-up version of Disney’s 1967 animated film, with more action and less sweetness. It also feels strangely removed from our moment.

  • If it all sounds a little too calculated—it is. Yet somehow this Jungle Book works, because Favreau has both a sense of humor and a sense of spectacle. Even in 3-D, the colors—a riot of jades, cobalts and singing-canary yellows—are vibrant.

  • Favreau’s fantasy is hampered by a talent-show moppet Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi) and by difficulties of translation; produced as a remake of Disney’s popular animated musical, it often struggles to make a place of its own amid the callbacks. (“The Bare Necessities,” the earlier film’s best-known song, gets a tossed-off sequence.) Yet as a display of effects know-how, it has undeniable allure. Talking animals have never looked so good, which is a bigger feat than it sounds.

  • The animal characters, created through computer animation, with footage of real animal movement used for reference, look spectacular. The voice actors, particularly Lupita Nyong'o as the hero's protective wolf mother and Idris Elba as the malevolent Bengal tiger, are superb. But director Jon Favreau has little else to add to the original film's vision.

  • The white-knuckle chase film that Favreau seems more invested in making is always at odds with the musical sequences he struggles to make room for—just as surely as this cast of talking animals feels like an irreconcilable anachronism in the context of the film's photorealistic animation. So much of the decision-making in this Disney redo suggests a film that's less a conspicuous reimagining of its source than a hasty and diminished Xerox of it.

  • In this digitized environment, when every talking critter is just a few shades away from the uncanny valley, he’s the only unpolished ingredient, out of synch with a virtual world. Still, "The Jungle Book" offers plenty of sophisticated trickery that overwhelms its narrative shortcomings. Favreau and the ever-reliable cinematographer Bill Pope have found seemingly endless ways to explore the gorgeous jungle scenery and the complex ecosystem populating it.

  • Here's about as convincing an argument as I can imagine for the existence of the modern Hollywood blockbuster. Disney and Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book reinvigorates an oft-told tale with star power, technology, and calculated charm.

  • I saw the newest Disney version of "The Jungle Book" in the company of my enthralled 12-year old son, and there were moments when I envied him—but not too many, because the film is so surefooted in its effects, so precise and simple in its characterizations, and so clear about what it's trying to say about the relationship between humanity and nature, that it made me feel about his age again, too. Maybe younger.

  • Favreau has other effects-heavy films on his resume, but the fact that he was inspired by Avatar is telling here. The level of detail on display — making more than 70 animal species look just like the real thing, using 3D imagery to largely add depth within the frame, and betraying the green screen-dominated production only in more static shots and dialogue-centric moments — is likely to evoke the same jaw-dropping reaction as James Cameron’s box office topper.

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