Over the last few years, Disney has proven that it is the only one that can and should have a monopoly over its projects.
Every live-action remake of the company’s familiar classics has done nothing less than landing a solid base hit, some have even hit home runs. In the case of “The Jungle Book,” it continues to prove why they’re batting a thousand.
The movie is true to the spirit of its animated predecessor in almost every sense: Talking animals, a couple of memorable musical numbers and more than enough striking visuals that stay with you long after it’s over.
It stars newcomer Neel Sethi as young Mowgli, a boy raised in the jungle by the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). His life is threatened by the presence of the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), which demands that Mowgli leave. With no choice, Bagheera lets him go on his own.
While trekking through the jungle, Mowgli comes across Baloo the Bear (Bill Murray) after his life is saved from the seductive python Kaa (Scarlett Johannson). Baloo reluctantly takes Mowgli under his wing and, yes, he even does so with “Bare Necessities.”
They encounter many creatures along the way, including the orangutan King Louie (Christopher Walken) who provides one of the movie’s most exhilarating and terrifying sequences when he chases Mowgli through his kingdom.
Director Jon Favreau delivers a film that will no doubt thrill Disney enthusiasts while simultaneously taking it into a new cinematic era. The movie creates convincing, beautiful and some thoroughly breathtaking worlds, even if the majority of it relies on CGI.
The voice work is remarkable throughout. There isn’t a bad performance in the whole movie or one that feels forced. The animals provide a sense of weight and depth, despite the fact we know it’s once again CGI. This is no doubt the most seamless use of CGI with animals in quite some time.
Next year, Disney is planning on a live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast.” If that film can be a tenth of what this film was, we’re in for something special. Until then, this is Disney’s most amazing effort to date.
(Rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.