The Jungle Book (2016) Review

Everyone loves the cartoon version of Kipling’s most famous tome. It was a 1960s classic with lush animation and some great songs. We didn’t really need a new version, though Disney seems determined to revamp its classics with a live action spin and 21st century effects. 

Sadly Jon Favreau’s new, live action version of Disney’s take on The Jungle Book is a massive let down. I spent half the film trying to stay awake and the rest of the movie trying to make out what was going on. 

One of the problems is its so dark, visually and tonally; it looks like it was shot with a night time Instagram filter. 

Okay, purists might argue that the original was equally dark, but this is just murky. 

The vocal cast is excellent, from Ben Kingsley (Bagheera) to Bill Murray (Baloo), but Christopher Walken is mis-cast as the Godfather-like King Louie. 

Idris Elba, Disney’s current go-to guy when it comes to vocalising creatures with authority (after Zootroplis), is excellent as always; his one-eyed Shere Khan spot on as the big bad, while Scarlett Johansson does a good job as the sinuous, seductive snake Kaa. 

Alas, Neel Sethi’s Mowgli is a bit of a let down also, lacking that magic quality. 

I’d like to see it again without an army of kids running to and from the loo, and with a better print where I knew what was what. 

It comes alive in the closing credits, with some fabulously inventive work, but obviously too late in the game. 

Let’s hope Andy Serkis’s pending take on the Rudyard Kipling classic is more on the money.