Jon Favreau is a hell of a director. He also knows how important a great cast and crew is. A reimagination of the decades old book and decades old animated Disney movie, The Jungle Book is an impressive movie and a technical marvel.
Found in the jungle as a very young boy by the panther Bagheera, Mowgli is being raised by wolves. Referred to as a “man cub” Mowgli has a hard time finding his place in the pack. When the tiger, Shere Khan, finds out a human is living amongst them he vows to kill him. In his journey to stay alive, Mowgli discovers fantastic characters, danger, and himself.
Right from the start, The Jungle Book grabs you by the eyeballs and guides you through a world that only great cinema can. From the Disney logo, we zoom away from Cinderella’s castle over the water into a river bed surrounded by foliage. Once through the film’s logo, the camera turns to the right and we’re in the Jungle Book. Mowgli is played by Neel Sethi, and aside from a quick scene with his father, is the only real life character in the movie. All the animals and 99% of the environment is computer generated. Cutting edge is putting it mildly. The animation on every level is amazing. The animals all have weight to them making them look that much more real. Even though talking animals is fantasy, it all looks right and is convincing to the point where my suspension of disbelief was locked in and I just believed that all of this was happening. The “Bare Necessities” song with Baloo (perfect casting Bill Murray) in the river is crazy. The finale is especially mind blowing.
The amount of care and planning to pull this movie off is impressive. Remaking a beloved classic is a daunting task to start with and the way they pushed this story with new tech is daring. So much could have gone wrong. The cinematography is genre defining stuff. It’s shot so well, the transitions are perfect and the soundtrack pulls everything together. With Favreau launching the MCU with Iron Man in 2008 and this, he is Disney’s golden goose. They’ll let this man do whatever he wants and we’ll all be waiting for it. This was a big surprise for me.