The CG Necessities
Having been found in the jungle by Bagheera, Mowgli, a man-cub, is raised by wolves and as such is trained to behave like one. But Shere Khan wants Mowgli as it was the man-cub's father who caused him to lose the sight in one eye thanks to his use of the red flower. With the wolf pack under threat Bagheera agrees to take Mowgli back to his own kind only for him to end up lost and in the company of Baloo. Not wanting to return to mankind Mowgli ends up having a run in with King Louie before discovering that Shere Khan has attacked and killed one of the wolves leading to him using man's tactics to try and get revenge.
All is fine and well when you watch "The Jungle Book", this 21st century big-budget adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling story, unless you then discover the behind the scenes pictures of young Neel Sethi running around on a set covered in blue plastic sheets accompanied by a man in full blue body stocking. It spoils the magic of the movie for me but this is the case when it comes to so many modern movies which are visually spectacular as actors run around on precisely laid out blue sets and then the graphic team and their computers create everything around them. Then elsewhere there other actors parading around in motion capture suits in order for those graphics team to create amazingly detailed animal characters who have an almost human nature. Yes I can appreciate what everyone in this movie has created, "The Jungle Book" is visually stunning but for me I am old school and for me this will never be right.
But when I get beyond my appreciation for old school movie making there is no denting that this version of "The Jungle Book" is a very good movie which is not a live action version of the Walt Disney animation but it still pays homage to it when it comes to a couple of musical scenes. Any credit to Jon Favreau because he has delivered a visually impressive movie but he has never over dwelt on those stunning visuals and kept the movie ticking over with the storyline and then the characters always driving the movie forwards rather than being forgotten about.
But of course there is also the choice of actors to voice the characters and Idris Elba delivers an imposing voice for Shere Khan whilst Bill Murray does a nice job of voicing Baloo without it sounding like he was trying to sound like Phil Harris who did the Baloo voice in the 1967 animation.
What this all boils down to is that "The Jungle Book" is a very good movie, a nice live action take on a story which I am sure many only know from the 1967 Walt Disney animation. But this is one of those movies which lose their magic when you know how it was made.