The Jungle Book: "The Bare Necessities of Life Will Come to You"

Director: Jon Favreau
Writer:    Justin Marks
Starring: Neel Sethi
                Ben Kingsley
                Bill Murray
                Idris Elba
                Lupita Nyong'o
                Christopher Walken
                Scarlett Johansson
                Giancarlo Esposito
Rating:    ****

The latest release from Disney sees audiences reunited with some familiar sounding characters, but certainly not familiar in appearence. I'm going to get my one negative opinion of this latest live action remake out of the way. Yes it is visually stunning and the casting is impeccable, but what happened to children's films being for children. I, as a child loved being drawn in to Disney's fantasy worlds where the cartoons looked like cartoons and nothing you saw was realistic but rather a magical world filled with wonder and talking animals. Why can't the visuals look fake, why in today's cinema does everything have to look so real. People don't go to Disneyland to see a real bear strolling around, they go to see the cartoons they love so dearly there infront of them. That being said, there is no doubting the 2016 version of The Jungle Book is film making at it's finest.

Idris Elba
The story we know so well has been remade with very few changes to the actual premise, rather more meat being added to the bones of the tale giving a slightly darker tale. Mowgli (played tremendously by newcomer Neel Sethi) portrays the man cub with energy, heart and all of the animalistic qualities that Moowgli needs to make him believable. Considering Sethi is the only live actor in the film (depsite a fleeting glimpse from another actor), he handles himself with outsetanding flare. Being that young and having to act alongside voices and whatever prop they used to stand in for his animal sidekicks must have been challenging, but it never shows how hard it must have been.

Speaking of the animals, the casting can not be faulted. Bagheera (Kingsley) is voiced with real superiority yet full of love, acting as a father figure and voice of reason throughout. Baloo (Murray) is as dry and comedic as you'd expect him to be, providing dry wit left, right and centre, yet still keeping the lovable charm that makes Baloo the perfect sidekick and confidante for Mowgli.

Lupita Nyong'o
The villains in this update are voiced by a fleeting glimpse appearance by Scarlett Johansson as the hypnotic and alluring snake, Kaa and Christopher Walken as a slightly darker and mob leader-esque version of King Louie, this time a gigantopithecus rather than an orangutan. 

Of course the villain that all children and adults will remember from the original story is Shere Khan (Elba) the evil and sinister tiger out to hunt and kill the man cub. Idris Elba uses only really his voice to help create a truly treachorous and fearsome villain, that can stand proudly next to the original Shere Kahn as one of Disney's most viallinous characters.

The script by Justin Marks is written and put together with such care and thought to the original stroies and the 1967 Disney movie. There is enough references and throwbacks to the film of so many peoples childhoods to satisfy the biggst Disney fans, with even two of the iconic songs getting a revamp (Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You). Seeing a real boy floating along a river on the stomach of a 'real bear' almost indentically to the cartoon filled me with nostalgia like you wouldn't believe. 

Christoper Walken
Also, I, as an adult viewer, enjoyed the extra story given to the likes of Baloo, Bagheera and Shere Kahn, allowing us to get a better insight into how they became the characters we have loved (or feared) for so many years. But the biggest joy for me was how much more Mowgli's wolf parents, Akela and Rakshi (Esposito & Nyung'o) are used in this version. Nyong'o brings her usual powerhouse performance along for the ride, and Esposito brings with him one of the most emotional scenes of the film itself.

Jon Favreau's direction is spectacular, and he really creates this Indian jungle and all of the creatures in it, and makes you feel like you are truly there for the ride. Despite my hesitancy on children's films being so realistic, there is no doubt that this is a beautifully made piece of cinema, and thanks to the heartfelt direction, fantastic computer animation and vocal performances and a wonderful script, I can assure you this film will no doubt be one of the best films in 2016, trust in me.

The Jungle Book - Trailer