The Jungle Book (2016)

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As a movie fan/nerd/buff/freak the idea of writing again is something that is a really exciting prospect. Especially when I haven’t really done it for a few years and once I had made my mind up regarding actually starting to write again I was left with a real problem.

Which movie do I write about as my first entry onto this blog?

I could go with one of my “go to movies” but every time I picked something I couldn’t help but feel like I was putting way too much thought into it. In the end I figured “why not leave it to chance?” So I did just that. I have an app which logs every movie I own and I let it randomly select one of the films I own and so the first movie I am writing about is the live action remake of Disney’s The Jungle Book.

This was only the second time I’d seen The Jungle Book and I can remember how hesitant I was to see it the first time. The idea of Disney remaking the classics into live action felt like an unnecessary cash grab to me. Needless to say this became one of those Geoff couldn’t let it go things and it just wasn’t a priority to see for me. When I did finally get around to seeing it I got why the hype was there. It was a worthy remake and actually brought a classic into the modern age without compromising on what the animated film had at its core. Not to mention how bonkers those visual effects are, or should I say Academy Award winning special effects!

But the thing that really jumped out at me, and upon further thought on director Jon Favreau’s other work, was just how good his casting for each film is. The man has helmed films that cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Will Ferrell as Buddy in Elf, sure we won’t go into too much detail about Cowboys & Aliens as a film but still he had Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in that film! The Jungle Book managed to cast an incredible Mowgli in Neel Sethi. Let’s just put some perspective on it, he is the only human actor in the shots. The rest is all done in post-production, meaning this little guy carried the film on his own without being able to bounce off of the heavy weights who provide their voices to all the animated characters. Just look at the below photo of the scene where he is riding down the river on Baloo. The other thing that is really present in this shot and from a few behind the scenes videos I’ve watched is how well director Jon Favreau works with Sethi, coaching him through the process.

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On top of that let’s rattle of some names of the huge vocal cast Favreau and his casting director Sarah Finn have put together. Idris Elba as Sher Khan, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa and Christopher Walken as King Louie who almost steals the show as a giant orang-utan king but the film completely belongs to Bill Murray as Baloo. His voice completely embodies the character and his huge loveable personality that borderlines on deceptive but yet you can’t be mad at him at all because it’s Bill Murray voicing Baloo!

So this is the inevitable part of this article where I tell you whether or not I actually enjoyed the film. The truth is I enjoyed it the first time and enjoyed it even more the second time. It’s one of those movies where despite it being a remake/reimagining it is executed so well that it rises above the burden that being known as a “remake” can bring a film. I mentioned it earlier but the way in which The Jungle Book is able to be its own film without losing the heart and qualities that the animated version had is quite a feat and so while I was sceptical before I now look forward to seeing what Favreau can do with his live action The Lion King.

Until the next movie,

Geoff

 

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