Film review: The Jungle Book (4 out of 5)
The latest Disney classic cartoon to be revisited with a modern format has arrived on the big screen and is definitely not the cute, cuddly story we saw back in 1967.
This is a far darker tale, using a mix of real-life and CGI, and featuring some really unpleasant characters and scenes that may well surprise some people.
The outline plot is much the same, a young boy (Mowgli) is discovered wandering around in the jungle on his own by a panther (Bagheera, voiced by Ben Kingsley) and is brought up by wolves.
However, a tiger, Shere Khan, announces he wants to kill the boy, so the decision is made to take Mowgli to a nearby village to be with his own people.
Along the way, though, he encounters some weird and wonderful characters, such as Baloo the bear, Kaa the snake and King Louise, a very large ape.
It all sounds very familiar to that 60s classic, but Idris Elba provides some real menace while voicing Shere Khan and Scarlett Johansson’s Kaa is a very bewitching and malevolent snake.
There’s plenty of jump shocks as fights take place and you’re never really sure how safe anyone is.
But there is also some humour once Baloo (Bill Murray) appears, although you probably won’t be laughing out loud.
We have a couple of familiar songs and while the first feels a natural part of the story, the second just seems randomly thrown in and didn’t work for me.
But the CGI is exceptional and young Neel Sethi is very good as Mowgli.
There’s some great scenes throughout but I particularly liked Christopher Walken’s King Louise looking and acting like Marlon Brando from Apocalypse Now.
This is most definitely a proper story, rather than the original’s series of adventures, and has a much better ending than Disney’s other version.
But although many children will enjoy it the very young ones may struggle with some scenes.
Film details: The Jungle Book (PG) 105mins
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley
Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol
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