The Jungle Book  2016   9 out of 10

The Jungle Book Live Action Remake was one of the big surprise hits of the year for Disney. It was directed by Jon Favreau of Iron Man and Iron Man 2 fame.   I don’t even think Disney knew how successful this remake was going to be.   The film was a risky endeavor as they were attempting to remake a beloved classic.  The film ended up a massive success grossing over 966 Million Worldwide –which quickly lead Disney to greenlight a live action Remake in the same style of The Lion King with Favreau at the helm once again.

The Visuals

Jon Favreau did an excellent job of bringing a classic and memorable cartoon into the modern era in this live action/CGI creation.   The look of the film was absolutely stunning. The world, created mostly in a computer was realistic looking and magical at the same time.   Watching the DVD extras for this film was eye-opening.  Pretty much the entire movie was shot on a green screen set and yet an amazing world was created.   The world seems so real and the characters really came to life on screen

The Cast

The movie had an excellent voice cast that included Ben Kingsley  as Bagheera the Panther and Idris Elba as the villainous  Shere Khan.   The key casting selection however was Bill Murray as Baloo the Bear.  Bill Murray was the absolute perfect choice for the crucial character that was the humor and heart of the original animated story.  He absolutely nailed the character and made the movie memorable.

The Story

The Story follows pretty closely to the original cartoon.  Mowgli has lived his life in the jungle with his family of wolves until Shere Khan threatens to have him killed and he is to be taken to the man village by Bagheera.    They get separated and he teams up with the carefree Baloo the Bear and decides he wants to live with Baloo and stay in the jungle.  He ends up getting captured by King Louie  (on odd performance by Christopher Walken).   Baloo and Bagheera rescue him in a thrilling action sequence.     A finally showdown with Shere Khan is epic.     The movie is filled with great action sequences and was a thrilling ride.  I can’t even imagine how cool The Lion King will be when they do it.

Comparing this film to the original Animated.

They both have their strengths.  I’m still personally a bigger fan of the original animated version –probably mostly for nostalgia reasons.  Baloo was one of my favorite characters growing up and the music of the original was so good (Especially the  original King Louie song).   The original had a little bit more humor–while this one was a little more action packed.    Even though I like the original  (just a little bit better) this remake was well worth a watch.   I would say that it was a complete surprise how good it was.

I would recommend both films—maybe even a double feature of the two.