Jungle Book Review (2016)

(My Youtube review)

I know some of you have been wondering when I would finally post my Jungle Book review here on the blog. I posted my youtube review on Thursday night, so make sure you are subscribed to both the blog and channel because sometimes I don’t have time to update both at same time (I’m only one person friends🙂 ).

I also wanted to wait to see the Jungle Book a second time on IMAX today before posting this review. I find on these big films it is often helpful to see the movie twice just to make sure my first read was accurate. I can confidently say I had the same experience in both screenings, so I’m pretty assured about my feelings.

It’s a good movie. I liked it a lot. Is it perfect? No but what movie is? Let’s talk about the pros and cons.

jungle-book-2016-posters-mowgli-balooThe biggest pro is the world building. Especially in IMAX 3D it was such an immersive experience.  I don’t think since Avatar I have been so immersed in a world at the theater. Maybe Gravity might be a good comparison. This is made all the more remarkable by the fact that it is all digitally created- down to the smallest blade of grass! Recently I have seen some terrible green screen work in films like In the Heart of the Sea or Gods of Egypt. Not here. There is no other word to describe the visuals but amazing. This is one to see on the big screen in 3D (which I almost never recommend).  Trust me on this one.

jungle book castThe voice talent is also all superb. Everyone from Bill Murray as Baloo, to Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, and Idris Elba as Shere Khan nails their characters.  It doesn’t feel like they are copying the iconic performances of the animated film either.  They are their own characters both in the script and vocal performances.

jungle book33I also really enjoyed the darker take on the story because even though I love the original animated film I admit it I like it mostly for the songs. This is more accurate to the book and particularly the beginning and ending I was really engaged with the story.

Mowgli is also a much more empathetic character (less whiny) than in the animated film.  Speaking of Mowgli, Neal Sethi is excellent in the part.  To think he did all his acting in a green screen room with puppets is remarkable, but even without that knowledge it’s a good, heartfelt performance.

THE JUNGLE BOOKNow to a few things that didn’t work for me. Both times I saw the film I got a little bit sleepy in the middle. Particularly in the sequences with Baloo and King Louie. I loved Bill Murray as Baloo but just the story kind of stalled there.  The King Louie stuff was almost one too many villains  and he was a little bit too mean for my taste. He’s supposed to be a smooth talker and he’s more of a bully in this film.

The other problem I had was in this section.  This is where we get both of the songs- Bear Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You. I love both of those songs in the animated musical but in this darker version (especially with King Louie) it didn’t really fit to have them break into song. It kind of took me out of the movie to see them singing all of the sudden.

Once Mowgli goes back to the wolves then it starts to pick back up again and I was engaged but I’ve seen it twice and both times that middle section lost my interest. Sorry…

jungle book2The other concern is that it is very scary. I know the animated film isn’t perfect but at least it is something you could watch with your entire family.  There is no way I could take my 6 and 7 year old nieces to this film. Shere Khan is very scary and attacks and kills characters. Louie is very scary and Kaa for her brief moments is scary. It kind of bums me out a little bit that it can’t be more of a family film but oh well.

Finally, there will be some people who will be annoyed at some stuff that is missing. Kaa is only in the film for about 5 minutes. The elephants are briefly seen. No vultures or their cheerful singing. I am willing to forgive and accept this new version but that may annoy some purists.

It might sound like I didn’t like the film which is untrue. I did like it. It was a magnificent experience, and I thought it was all done extremely well. But for me I still think Cinderella was better. It was more engaging from start to finish with no middle act lull.  Plus, it was more consistent in tone  throughout, and I just thought it was very magical. I also like that it is a family film that teaches a lovely message of kindness and courage to young girls. This film excludes those young kids because it is so scary.

But for a visual experience and for something new I definitely recommend seeing Jungle Book. I think you will really enjoy it.

Overall Grade B+

21 thoughts on “Jungle Book Review (2016)

  1. I absolutely love this film especially the visuals although I would say the Kaa scene is a bit pointless. I see what you mean about being scary but I took a 7 year old and he was fine but every child is different and gets scared by different things.

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    1. Yeah it really does depend on the kid for sure. It’s a very good film but I just felt like I had to address those few concerns I had but I still enjoyed it.

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  2. Nice review and I thought you mentioned some great points. I preferred to have kaa and king louie as more of neutral and ambiguous instead of evil. You’re right, there’s just too many villains. I found the movie really entertaining, and I think the best thing was what you said…that the characters seem original.

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  3. Overall, a fair review. But I will say right now that this “Jungle Book” was to me what Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella” was to you; it hit me in all the right spots and was a genuinely well crafted movie as well. It probably is too dark for anyone under the age of say, eight years old, but at least the animated film isn’t going anywhere. In fact, you can feel the affection and reverence for the animated classic from Favreau and the other filmmakers here.

    In fact, I will counter a couple of points raised: showing the elephants are being more like semi-divine creatures capable of shaping the jungle around them and thus not talking worked in this movie’s favour, it was a more Kipling esque element that got to shine. As for the vultures, I’m actually relieved they didn’t feature prominently in the film because, honestly, I’ve never liked them as much as other people, and they might have thrown the tone of the movie off. But you’re right in that there is only one standout scene with Kaa and it does feel more expositional than it really should do, but her mystical, siren-like presence was enough to win me over. (Or hypnotize me?😛 )

    You could say I have been swept up in the hype but for now I’m standing by the rating I gave it. Hope you give it a read and let me know what you think.🙂

    http://letterboxd.com/o_stainton92/film/the-jungle-book-2016/

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    1. Great job with your review. I like your point about the elephants being able to shape the jungle. I hadn’t thought of it that way. I didn’t mind those changes from the original. I only mentioned it because it might annoy some purists. I really enjoyed the movie but just had a few little issues. I can totally see why this resonated more than Cinderella for you.

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      1. Overall, I just have more of a personal history with The Jungle Book, hence why I was so pleased with the film, and perhaps more willing to consider it’s flaws to be relatively minor in the long run.

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      2. Totally get that. I really enjoyed the film so I can see why it is a favorite. Have you read the book? I just read it in December and found it was surprisingly emotional

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      3. I read the book when I was 11 years old, and was rather thrown off by how different it was from either film version I had seen at that point. It was emotional and dark, but also sophisticated and mystical as well. it was unusual to find that Baloo was actually the stern teacher figure while Bagheera was comparatively more laidback and friendly with Mowgli.

        Overall, it’s such a different story that you could make a faithful adaptation and it would have it’s own identity apart from the versions from Disney, and that’s something I hope Andy Serkis and Warner Bros are able to see through successfully.

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  4. Just saw this film today: if I used your grading system, B+ is what I’d give it as well. Aside from what you’ve already said (most of which I feel the same way about), I liked how the animals didn’t look freaky with their mouths moving, how elements from the original film like Kaa’s hypnotic eyes were incorporated here, and how the elephants were used: the creation story surrounding them felt like it could be based on real mythology, but I can’t find any references to say for certain. I was a bit dissatisfied with the ending though: it didn’t feel especially conclusive.

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      1. Not at all. I was impressed with the technical skill but felt it was missing that emotional component. (Big fan of the original animated tale.)

        Love to hear your thoughts on my review.

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  5. I just wrote my review last night – posting tomorrow – but I have a lot of similar thoughts to you. I actually found the movie to be slow for much of the first half and that was my biggest issue I think. I don’t mind that they didn’t include some of the things that they had in the animated one, and I liked the darker twist – it felt like it had more of a theme and gave it a more cohesive feel throughout.

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    1. Oh look forward to reading your thoughts. I actually agree with you about the darker theme. I only mentioned leaving some things out for purists reading my review. I didn’t mind the changes either. In fact, I think they probably should have eliminated the songs all together.

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  6. I just saw this not too long ago, and I thought it was good. There was not any major changing like Maleficent. The voice talent was amazing. I liked learning about a bit more background on the whole film. The characters were well developed. I did not like how they made King Louie a villain and was pretty surpised. I definitely agree that this film is way too scary for younger kids. Honestly, I got pretty startled at some scenes( especially when Shere Khan pops out of nowhere) and Kaa’s voice was scary and it was sorta cool. Overall, I really enjoyed this movie, and am going to write a review on it soon. It wasn’t good as Cinderella, but it was good. This film makes me have a little more confident that the live action version of Beauty and the Beast will be a success!

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