Today, Disney’s live-action CGI hybrid retelling of The Jungle Book will finally hits Blu-Ray. Disney’s recent retelling of the classic story was both hailed by critics, earning it an impressive 95% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. Plus it had a box office take of $363 million domestic and just a little under $1 billion worldwide, making it the third highest grossing film of 2016 just under Captain America: Civil War and Zootopia. There’s a lot that made The Jungle Book such a well-received movie by both critics and audiences across the world and, to celebrate its upcoming home release, we’re taking a look at what makes Disney’s The Jungle Book their best “re-imagining” yet.
Back on the film’s release date of April 15th, I published my own personal review of the film in which I called it “a spectacle” and a “triumph worth celebrating”. After months of guarded optimism and concern about Disney’s new lack of creativity and only the beginning of what is to be a surge of re-tellings of their classic films, I was concerned about exactly how this remake would result. The Jungle Book not only gave me faith in the Disney company’s upcoming slate, but it also put all my concerns about the film to rest. The Jungle Book is a visually stunning masterpiece and a perfect retelling that any fan could ask for. Brilliant, creative and immersive, this film is one that will be cherished for a long time.
For starters, The Jungle Book is not afraid to take chances with its story. Though it presents the same story that you know and cherish, this version, directed by Iron Man‘s Jon Favreau, digs deep into the story and finds new creative elements to blend in. It crafts new characters, story elements and even strays from the original ending, yet at the same time, staying truthful to the source material. Perhaps what’s most interesting about The Jungle Book in comparison to recent Disney remakes like Cinderella or Maleficent is that The Jungle Book carries over a lot more from its original film, most notably it’s musical numbers. Featuring new renditions by Bill Murray and Christopher Walken, the film honors the zaniness of Walt Disney and the Sherman Brothers perfectly.
The Jungle Book also might just be one of the most thrilling films of the year. Favreau crafts an environment that’s incredibly immersive and dangerous, finding new ways to add intensity and excitement. The film may not be the same version that you grew up with, but its creativity manages to blend the spirit of the original within a new blend of action-packed intensity.
Additionally, The Jungle Book is one of Disney’s most impressive films on a technical aspect. Using “pre-visualized” motion capture technology introduced in films such as James Cameron’s Avatar or Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, the entire film’s environment was filmed solely on a blue-screen soundstage in a warehouse in Los Angeles. Creating an entire environment around the film’s sole human actor, Neel Sethi was the challenge the crew was tasked with, but despite the challenge, the movie feels seamless and realistic. Sethi delivers a realistic performance that immerses the audience and at the same time being one of the most visually stunning films built entirely within a CG landscape. Every leaf in the jungle environment in the film to every piece of fur on each character had to be manually created within CG, and the result is stunning and perfect, marking another incredible breakthrough for Disney.
But you can’t have a great film without great actors, and this is where Disney hits the nail on the head. Taking over the iconic roles of Baloo or Bagheera is a tough challenge, but one that the film’s cast of actors, including Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, and Lupita N’yongo do an amazing job at. These characters have more life and depth to them than ever before and much of that can be contributed to the brilliant performance that these actors bring to them.
The Jungle Book blends incredible talent and great storytelling to craft a perfect stunning masterpiece that both pays tribute to the classic cherished film and is creative in making its own legacy at the same moment. Despite Disney’s new shameless rehash of their classic stories, The Jungle Book shows that despite that, there’s still creativity to be found within the studio.