Directed by Jon Favreau
The versatile filmmaker Jon Favreau moves dexterously among different genres – the comedic fantasy “Elf” was an agreeable option for Christmas; the sci-fi action thriller “Cowboys & Aliens” was a sort of prank that didn’t work so well; the unparalleled “Iron Man” is a reference in the cinematic Marvel universe while its second installment lowered the expectations of something big; the comedy “Chef” put some heart and soul in an engaging story whose main character is played by himself.
Even with ups and downs, Mr. Favreau shows an innate talent that is now transported to the computer-generated imagery adventure of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, a realistic remake of the Walt Disney’s 1967 animated film.
Our little hero, Mowgli, perfectly impersonated by the newcomer Neel Sethi, faces hard times when he’s mercilessly hunted by the ferocious tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba).
In order to live in safety, Mowgli is forced to separate from Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o) and Akela (Giancarlo Esposito), the wolves that raised him when he got lost from his parents in the jungle. The agile black panther, Bangheera (Ben Kingsley), his faithful protector, shows him the way to his own kind. However, the sensitive kid faces some heavy challenges during the journey throughout the beautiful yet perilous jungle. He’s deceived by a giant sibilant python and kidnapped by impish little monkeys that take him to the dark temple of their master, the ancient and enormous orangutan, King Louie (Christopher Walken).
Gladly, he also finds sincere friendship and fundamental assistance in Baloo (Bill Murray), a funny, lazy, and honey-addicted bear that doesn’t mind to set aside its regular naps and fight the fear of heights for his new buddy.
Favreau used the technology in his favor, creating stunning images that were never showy but rather closer to reality.
There’s a lot to be liked in “The Jungle Book”, and that comes from the brain and good taste used in the approach, even with Mr. Favreau’s indecision if he wanted to turn the movie into a musical - a couple of brief swinging jazz pieces were thrown in, but despite sounding nice they can’t really be considerate an asset.
Boasting delightful details within a simple narrative, this is an utterly magical tale whose every single animal, no matter which size or nature, has the power to captivate us somehow.