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The Jungle Book

May 16, 2016

The Jungle Book (2016)
Director: Jon Favreau
Actors: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Idris Elba

Synopsis: Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a human who has grown up as a “man cub” in the jungle. There comes a time when he has to start thinking about a life with humans again, although evil tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba), is out to get him first…

Review: Disney’s revamp of its near 50 year old family classic, ‘The Jungle Book’, is as visually proficient as a calculating, multi-million pound, live action studio offering should be (especially when – presumably – no expense has been spared in recruiting the industry’s best technicians to craft it). And yet, the end result is strangely tentative and, dare I say it, a bit soulless.

At the centre of the some of the problems is Neel Sethi’s bland, affectless performance as Mowgli (replete with suspiciously proto-international American accent). Then there are the strangely neutered and timid turns of Bill Murray as Baloo and Christopher Walken as King Louis. It’s almost as if the producers thought the cult residue of casting these ‘cool’ names alone would be enough. There’s also almost a sheepishness about the rolling out the two famous songs (“Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You”) from the original Jungle Book film.

And it’s that comparison to the previous film which nicely summarises the underlying issue with this version. Yes, the old one may look technically inferior with its ‘dated’ 2D animation, but it had an exuberance and sure-footedness about its purpose and audience that this box-ticking, corporate exercise in reaching as many demographics as possible has completely overlooked. (May 2016)

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