Yes, yes it is and it’s worth the cost of a 3D ticket. This is probably one of the only movies that are actually worth paying 3D for. For this review, I’ll be comparing it to the 1967 animated classic. I didn’t have time to read the book, but if I do I’ll write a follow up post. The CGI was fantastic and I really liked how they decided to tell the story. Every character brought a different emotion to the big screen and I loved, along with other adults in the theatre, hearing the soundtrack and score of a beloved classic. It really brings you back to your childhood. For those unfamiliar with the 1967 adaptation and even the book by Rudyard Kipling, this movie stands on its own.
There are some big differences between the two Disney versions. The biggest one is Mowgli’s place in the movie. The 1967 film is largely focused on Mowgli’s story while this one is just like the title: it’s about the jungle and Mowgli and all the creatures that live in it. We get to see more of the wolf pack as well as Shere Khan. I’ve always felt like how we saw him in the 1967 movie was brief and a bit cowardly – the viewer doesn’t truly see why the jungle is afraid of Shere Khan. Here, Shere Khan is fear and cruelty; Idris Elba is phenomenal when it comes to bringing such a character to life.
The cinematography deserves 5 stars. I felt like I was there and nothing has ever done that as well as Planet Earth (the BBC documentary). Actually, I’m curious if they used some footage from PE. I also liked that they used live-action to show natural events that might happen, things that have nothing to do with Man. You’ll watch animal stampedes, the dry season, the wet season, rock slides & flooding. The CGI is fantastic – the animals look real and the 3D aspect adds another layer. I can only imagine how much time and dedication goes into that. What’s interesting, with some animals you could tell they were CGI because of their expressions, like Bagheera and Baloo. There’s this humanity, which is amazing to watch. Others, like Shere Khan, well lets just say it’d be hard to tell him apart from the real deal.
There are some big differences between this version and the 1967 version. There are only two musical sequences and they’re pretty short. While they use the same music and score, it’s largely in the background, which I think fits better with a live-action adaptation. It’s harder to imagine real-life animals breaking into song. I did like that they could bring these songs back in different scenes as well as scenes that weren’t in the 1967 version. There was one musical sequence I didn’t like and it’s one of the only things I dislike about the movie. I’m not a 100% percent fan of the actor they chose for Mowgeli and I didn’t feel like he lived up to the musical aspect, but maybe that’s just me. Overall, it was still entertaining and I think every kid in the audience was enthralled.
Bagheera is a fantastic character, and the actor sets a precedent. Even when you only hear his voice, you know who he is. He’s taken up the job of being Mowgeli’s foster father, teaching him everything a man cub needs to know to survive in the jungle. This is something Mowgli struggles with, doing things like a wolf when you don’t have sharp teeth and claws. He comes up with clever alternatives, called tricks, which gets him into trouble with Bagheera.
I loved Baloo! He brings the humour, just lazing around with not a care in the world. The actor was fantastic with this character.
One of the only things I had an issue with would be King Louie’s character and how he was brought to life. This character perhaps represents greed and lust, always looking for power and trying to climb up the food chain. He considers humans to be at the top and so is always looking for human things. He’s a giant orangutang living in ancient human ruins with his eye on fire, a human invention. I didn’t have a problem with that. However, King Louie takes on the role of an Italian mob boss and while it fits with the character and everyone laughed, I don’t know how I feel about westernizing a character from an Eastern work. I don’t feel like this character needs to be westernized to connect with the audience.
All in all, I was thoroughly entertained and impressed with The Jungle Book. The animals were so well done, and it makes it easier to think about them doing movies and characters that are largely animal-based or characters that would require CGI (Mulan!). I really, really hope they decide to take on The Lion King and Mulan next! There was actually a scene that reminded me of The Lion King. It’s my favourite movie on the planet, so my life won’t be complete without a live-action Lion King. I give this movie 5 stars.