The Jungle Book

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The Jungle Book

There’s not much that’s all-new in Disney’s reworking of their classic adaptation of The Jungle Book. Raised by a pack of wolves and panther Bagheera (the voice of Ben Kingsley) in the jungle, orphan boy Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is targeted by evil tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) and forced to flee – eventually teaming up with bear Baloo (Bill Murray, who’s playing the only character blessed with an expressive face). Which is kind of a problem.

While director Jon Favreau (and the usually massive SFX teams) does an excellent job of bringing the photo-realistic animal cast to life, having very realistic animals not only talking but on more than one occasion singing is more than a little jarring. Tonally the film is a bit all over the place too: the early scenes with Shere Khan are full of menace and the threat from him seems very real, but then there’s a swerve into musical territory (using the same songs from the 1967 animated version) which again, seems like an odd fit. There are loads of really effective scenes here whether they’re scary or fun, the animals look amazing and Sethi is great as the lead. But the whole thing never really comes together as a whole. It’s a film of parts, and so only partly successful.

Reviewed by Anthony Morris