Most of us have fond memories of watching the 1967 animated version of The Jungle Book as a child.
So entering the screening of this Disney live-action remake held more than a hint of trepidation – offended that someone could potentially ruin the characters we grew to love – but my worries were soon allayed after seeing what a fantastic job Iron-Man director Jon Favreau had done with this adaptation.
He’s managed to blend the best bits from the stories of Rudyard Kipling with the sixties classic – and turned it into something genuinely unique and brilliant.
The story follows a young boy named Mowgli (young rookie star Neel Sethi), who was raised by Raksha (12 Years a Slave’s Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o), a wolf who loves him as much as her own.
We are soon introduced to the villainous tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba) – who was blinded in one eye by the red ‘fire’ flower which he blames on mankind – and when he becomes aware of Mowgli, he demands that the wolfpack turn him in or for certain death.
At this point, panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) wisely decides that the boy must be returned to his own kind – but the terrifying Shere Khan is never too far behind.
At almost an hour into the movie, you start to miss the light-heartedness of its animated predecessor . . . and at that point – as if by magic – cue Baloo. With the lazy bear (voiced by Bill Murray) gracing the screen, closely followed by the popular ape Louie (Christopher Walken) everything moves into place.
We’re even treated to a couple of the songs we grew up singing.
Parents should be warned that this version of The Jungle Book is intense – Twitter called it ‘The Revenant’ for kids – with some younger viewers potentially finding certain scenes distressing.
But this is probably a consequence of the special effects looking so jaw-droppingly realistic – and this is just a part of Favreau’s impressive puzzle coming sensationally together to provide all the ‘bare necessities’.
[youtube id=”jqmUoteadZI” width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Lupita Nyong’o, Giancarlo Esposito & Garry Shandling
Running Time: 1 Hr 45 Mins
Director: Jon Favreau