Review: The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book was always going to be one of the more difficult stops on the live action Disney remakes train. Alice in Wonderland was always ripe for a remake, and Disney went the smart route giving it to a visionary director like Tim Burton to create something unique. Maleficent took one of the most gorgeous but least interesting of the classic Disney animated films and gave us an entirely different take on the story, ditching what was familiar in order to try to replicate the popularity of Wicked. And Cinderella became a lavish spectacle, gorgeously constructed and faithful to the original but updated to give its heroine strength and an emotional core that helped her feel relevant again. I’ve enjoyed all of these live action remakes thus far, though to varying degrees, in spite of not being entirely on board with this latest movement from Disney, but I had some serious concerns about The Jungle Book. The 1967 animated version, Walt Disney’s final film, has a special place in the heart of Disney fans, but it’s also know for taking the most liberties with its source material, diverting wildly from Rudyard Kipling’s text and striking out on its own path. Would a modern version be able to find a compromise between capturing the spirit of the book and honoring a Disney legacy that should not be ignored? The answer is largely yes. This new version of The Jungle Book is a visual marvel with some of the most stunning imagery and impressive effects I’ve ever seen, one that generally manages to find a balance between widely different interpretations of the same story, anchored by a stampede of strong performances from both humans and animals alike.

Continue reading