Kernsensus Review: The Jungle Book (2016)

Turning a classic book into a cartoon favorite is no easy task, but turning that cartoon into a live action remake almost 50 years after the fact? It’s a risky move, but like all things in life, success normally takes a large amount of risk. With Jon Favreau behind the camera, The Jungle Book shines a light on what live action Disney films can be. It has a little something for everybody, a message about the conflicts between fitting in and being yourself, a more up-to-date telling of the Kipling tale, and voice acting from some of the greats.

The Jungle Book has seen many iterations, from the 1967 classic to the mixed reviewed 1994 live action and now the well reviewed 2016 take, which has already warranted a sequel and yet another approach to the film scheduled to premiere in 2018, with a new cast and director. That’s a mouthful to type and if it sounds confusing, it kind of is, but it happens a lot in Hollywood, as the rights to projects are distributed throughout different studios.  To say the least, it’s a popular story to get ahold of.

Directing both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Jon Favreau knows how to make an action scene, and applying that knowledge to the Jungle Book storyline and backed by an award-filled cast creates a truly enjoyable cinematic experience. A cast with the likes of Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, and Scarlett Johansson welcome newcomer Neel Sethi to the acting field in a role that is sure to brighten a resume as he fills the shoes of Mowgli, the man-cub. A star-ridden cast, visually stunning CGI, and the absence of the blatant racism seen in the 1967 original is definitely refreshing.

Drawing from both the 1894 book by Rudyard Kipling and bringing in some influence from the animated 1967 film, the movie is sure to bring some strong feelings of nostalgia, and leave a couple songs stuck in your head (but don’t worry, Disney has put them up on their channel on Youtube). The movie follows Mowgli the boy raised by wolves as he discovers that the biggest threat to his family isn’t the other animals in the food chain, but rather the humans that he never grew to know.

One can hope that Disney chooses to view this new Jungle Book as a stepping stone for their newer renditions of their classic animated movies. As a fan of the entire cast, and a praiser of Jon Favreau, I’m giving The Jungle Book a 9/10.  ‘Jungle Book’ is rated PG and is currently in theaters with a running time of 1 hour 51 minutes. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, you can check it out here.

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