Jon Faverau directs Neel Sethi, Idris Elba and Ben Kingsley in this live action(ish) adaptation of Walt Disney’s classic adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic.
Jonny Fav is becoming the sure thing when it comes to directing universally gratifying cinematic jaunts. Elf, Iron Man, Chef and now this. None of them felt like must sees the day before their release but then he just knocks these full of heart, big starry entertainments out of the park and creates a new family favourite every time. We haven’t had someone quite like this making movies since Speilberg and Zemekis first came to power. So just take my word for it this The Jungle Book really works. It is full of adventure and excitement, eye popping visuals and deceptively easy humour. The vocals help. Murray as Baloo and Kingsley’s Bagheera are spot-on loyal updates of the animated original’s voice work, whereas Walken’s King Louie and Elba’s Shere Khan take their villians into riskier but more rewarding directions. The tiger in particular shifts dramatically from the old charming bully to that recognisably terrifying psycho none of us can make eye contact with in the pub for fear of a random thrashing. A radical change that works, so well done Idris for unleashing Khan’s inner geezer. If such changes make you cautious let me put your understandable doubts at ease. The Jungle Book 1967 is my all time favourite Disney, and I all feared this would be a fumble of a retread, yet within minutes of popping my 3D glasses on I was enraptured. I instantly appreciated how much this steered the attitude and philosophy back to Kipling’s source for good without rejecting what worked as cartoon. It is a new, action set-piece strong experience, faithful yet modern, old school yet cutting edge. A balls to wall awesome piece of family entertainment.