Tyler Ku’ulani Lopez
Now I’m an admitted Disney fan so I was likely to enjoy this movie no matter what, but I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic when I say this is the best movie in 2016 that has talking and singing animals. This is of course a remake of the classic animated Jungle Book from 1967 that generations have grown up with. This new Jungle Book brings that story to live action in an exciting, stimulating, and at times emotional way. If you’ll just BEAR with me… we can WOLF down on some good reviews… heh.
1 – Writing: 8/10
The writing wasn’t bad at all, but it helps having a book and movie to work with. The movie of course is based on the classic work of Rudyard Kipling, adapted into a screenplay by Justin Marks. Justin doesn’t have a long history of writing, but he did a fair job here. The movie does work in the two most famous songs from the original animated movie in an organic and fun way. There’s some obvious writing, but at its heart this is a kid’s movie so I can forgive that.
2 – Direction: 8/10
Typical of a Disney movie this one will strum your heartstrings like a well oiled harpsichord. Jon Favreau, most famous probably for his role in Swingers, has now directed a number of memorable movies! He’s brought us Chef, Elf, Zathura, the first two Iron Man movies, and let’s not talk about Cowboys vs. Aliens! He does a terrific job of presenting this classic story in a new way. It’s familiar enough that old fans will easily follow along and yet unique enough to differentiate itself from its predecessors! That’s good reviewin’ right there.
3 – Cinematography: 8/10
There are a number of truly epic, gorgeous shots in this movie. I mean really. Cinematography is one of these categories I never really paid attention to until I started reviewing like this, but now I notice it constantly. In a way I hate it, but in another way it really does let me enjoy the art behind this medium and let me tell you visually this movie is stunning! More on that later.
4 – Acting: 7/10
Yeah… Well honestly this was pretty average which was a little disappointing coming from such a star-studded cast. Outside of Bill Murray and Idris Elba I didn’t think anyone truly stood out. The young lead Neel Sethi was really good sometimes, but not all the time. I feel like a jerk a bit for saying that and I definitely understand that 90% of this movie is CGI which makes it hard for actors… but still… The acting was exactly approximately pretty okay.
5 – Editing: 8/10
I had no problems! The pace of the movie was great. It was never boring and it never felt like was rushing or dragging… I hope you guys get that joke!
6 – Sound: 9/10
The greatest part that sound played was definitely all the different animal noises which were spot on. At least I assume they were. I have no idea really what some of those animals actually sound like, but they sounded like what I imagine they’d sound like… I think that makes sense…
7 – Score/Soundtrack: 8/10
Hey if you loved the soundtrack from the animated movie, you’ll like this one. I pretty much guarantee it. If anything, I wish there was more music!
8 – Production Design: 10/10
I’m not exaggerating when I say Disney and Favreau built an amazing, beautiful world. The jungle isn’t just a jungle, it’s a living and breathing playground for Mowgli and the rest to live their lives. I watched the movie in 2D, but I could see that there was an effort made to provide a fantastic 3D platform. I can’t do 3D very often… I get motion sickness on swings. Still though! In 2D the movie was visually just amazing.
9 – Casting: 9/10
I know it sounds kind of silly giving the cast such a great score, but the acting a poor one… I think what it really comes down to is most of these guys kind of phoned this one in. I thought Bill Murray was tremendous as Baloo, a rival to the great Phil Harris from the original animated movie. Idris Elba as Shere Khan was terrifying, it was the perfect cast. Christopher Walken provided a chilling King Louie. Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, and Giancarlo Esposito were all solid if unspectacular. And of course shout out to the late, great Gary Shandling as Ikki, the single greatest porcupine ever depicted in a live action movie about animals that can talk.
10 – Effects: 9/10
Like I said, the visuals of this movie are just remarkable. I mean I’m sure we’ve all imagined what it looks like when animals speak English to each other when we’re not around to hear them. I know I have. Just last week actually! Now we don’t have to imagine it. It’s not just the animals talking though, it’s their movements. They look like cats and bears and apes and monkeys and they act like it too. Not to mention the kid looks super realistic.
Overall Score: 8.4/10
That’s a heck of a good score! This isn’t the greatest movie and it’s not the best movie of 2016 or anything, but it is really good! It’s the classic animated movie brought to new life and presented for a new generation. I enjoyed the heck out of the movie and that’s not just because I finished an entire large pack of sour patch kids. Weee! This movie gets two thumbs up from me and I absolutely recommend it. It’s fun, it’s nostalgic, it’s visually appealing, and… it has all the BEAR necessities… or is bare?… Either way, when you go to see the movie I’m gonna wanna be like you-o-o!