The Jungle Book poster

I hadn’t heard anything about the remake of The Jungle Book until it hit local cinemas recently. After hearing good things about it, I decided to go check it out. Turns out those good things were mostly true.

The Jungle Book is the story of a young boy, Mowgli, who is adopted by a pack of wolves after his father is killed by the tiger Shere Khan. Many years later Shere Khan becomes aware of the boy’s presence in the jungle. Fearing the threat that the man-cub will become, he decides to take Mowgli’s life. Mowgli leaves the wolf pack and makes his way to the man village in order to protect the wolf family he loves.

The Good

  • Great voice acting by the many talented A-listers who bring the animal characters to life
  • The CG animation used for the animals is just… wow… this movie is worth watching probably just for this alone
  • The animal’s “performances” are fantastic, with the furry cast grabbing the spotlight in every scene they’re in (this credit goes to the animators who worked on this part of the film)
  • Modernises the story while still retaining the best aspects of the original movie
  • Reworks certain aspects of the plot to make more sense
  • Some cool nods to the original character’s songs

The OK

  • The score wasn’t that great for a Disney film (credit to my friend Marlan who pointed this out)
  • Disney also should have decided whether they wanted to make this a musical or not because as it stands, its somewhere in the middle
  • Is a bit too dark for younger viewers (it’s important to note that this is not a PG or family friendly film, and carries an age restriction for children younger than 10 years in South Africa)
  • Occasionally feels like some of Disney’s other films

The Bad

  • Neel Sethi adds to the stereotype that child actors are mostly terrible (sorry kid, but you can’t act, and you also can’t sing)

Final Thoughts

I had heard nothing about this film until the promotional material appeared in South African cinemas a few weeks ago. Even then, I asked myself why would I want to watch this film and why did they even bother to remake the original animated film. I started to hear good things about it though, so I decided to go check it out. Turns out that was a good call.

The creative team behind this remake took the elements of the original film that worked, and either removed or updated those that didn’t fit with modern audiences. This results in a final product that is definitely more mature than it’s animated source material (as is reflected by the 10+ age restriction), but delivers a better story. The other aspects of the film, such as the animation, voice acting, plot, and pacing are all very well executed.

Unfortunately, one cannot ignore Neel Sethi who lacks the experience to carry this film. His acting comes off as forced, which is to be expected considering his age. In this regard, it would have made sense to make Mowgli slightly older, putting him in his young teen years. This would have added more depth to the story as he would physically be in the stage of maturing from a man-cub to a man, and allowed the film creators to find a slightly more experienced actor. Maybe they thought it might be too close to Tarzan then?

Overall, The Jungle Book is an entertaining and engaging remake that works, despite Sethi’s lack of experience as an actor.