We were fortunate enough to get an early press screening of The Jungle Book and we want to share it with you since this is one of those Disney classic movies that they’re now re-doing in live action like the other movies. Since it’s theoretically possible that we will get to see The Jungle Book characters in Once Upon a Time, plus the whole universe connects in some way so we thought we’d share it with you since it also ties in with the other Disney fairy tale movies that we’ve seen.
Because The Jungle Book is just coming out in theaters, the first portion of this review will be spoiler-free, as if you don’t know how The Jungle Book goes, anyway.
Spoiler-Free The Jungle Book Movie Review
Aside from the fact that it was an enjoyable movie, one of the things that we really enjoyed about The Jungle Book is how they used all of the same music. When the movie started, it was all the same music from the cartoons. Once Upon a Time fans will surely enjoy this movie; lots of enjoyment to be had in this. But even if you aren’t a regular fan of Once Upon a Time but have seen The Jungle Book, you will still enjoy it, too.
We also loved that they used many of The Jungle Book songs from the Disney 1967 movie, even if they didn’t use all of them. For this live action movie, they re-used a couple of the iconic classic Disney The Jungle Book songs such as “I Wanna Be Like You” and “Bare Necessities”. The opening music was also the same as the original Disney movie from 1967, as well as “Trust in Me”, Kaa’s song.
We liked seeing these in live action. It was really fun and neat, and they did a good job on the computer generated imagery. At times, when we were watching the character animation and seeing fine details, we wondered whether they animated them or someone wearing a costume or even trained an animal. It was fascinating how they used computer animation to adjust the animal to what they needed it to do because it looked realistic. We also kept thinking if the boy who played Mowgli if he was in a warehouse full of green screen and props. However, the thing that was a little hard to get used to is seeing animals talk even if they looked real; how they communicate with each other. It seemed like some of the animals have languages and some don’t and it was surprising which animals couldn’t talk. At least from the 1967 Disney movie, all of the animals talked, have a part to play, have a song and interacted verbally, but for this live action film, the elephants didn’t talk.
One of the reasons we were so excited to watch The Jungle Book and review this movie is because it has Giancarlo Esposito, who played Sidney Glass, the Genie and the mirror on Once Upon a Time. For this movie, however, he voiced Akela, who is the leader of the wolf pack. If you are thinking of the Disney movie and wondering who Akela is, Akela is the one with a tiny little portion in it so he may not seem as familiar as the other characters. But here in the live action film, Akela has a bigger role to play, and was nicely voiced by Giancarlo Esposito.
The Jungle Book had a great cast of voice talents, but one that didn’t quite fit was Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Kaa, the snake. It just seemed not quite as hypnotic and deceptive; too normal. We know they did a special effect on her voice and she kind of whispered things in a way that made a little bit different, but it just didn’t have the playfulness. But if you’re a fan of Scarlett Johanson, then you’ll probably love that, on the soundtrack, she sings “Trust in Me”, which is also from the 1967 The Jungle Book movie, and she did a good job with the song.
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Spoiler-filled The Jungle Book Movie Review
Once Upon a Time fans will definitely enjoy this new movie, even if we haven’t seen any characters from The Jungle Book on the show. We might see a reference, like Pongo the Dalmatian and we do now have Cruella DeVil, but maybe at some point we’ll get to hear Baloo being mentioned or Khan. Although, we have seen plush dolls of perhaps some of those characters around in Once Upon a Time.
One of our favorite moments from this 2016 live action movie is when Mowgli helped the baby elephant out of the pit. It was a really beautiful moment because throughout the movie, Mowgli isn’t allowed to be himself and it was Baloo that allowed him for the first time. It was really cool to see him using his strength when he helped the baby elephant out. A big theme in this movie is pursuing what you’re good at and not trying to fit in with everyone else; be yourself, follow your strengths, and that you are enough just as you are. It was encouraging and an uplifting message for the kids.
Another moment we loved from The Jungle Book live action movie was Christopher Walken as King Louie. He was perfect for the part. The way they made King Louie looked like Christopher Walken, especially the face. He plays the part really well. His accent is perfect for it and the way that he says certain words is perfect. It also seemed like there were certain nods to what Christopher Walken is known for. The way he sings “I Wanna Be Like You” was a lot of fun, too.
As it is, the 1967 Disney movie version of The Jungle Book was based on a series of stories, and while this new live action movie did not necessarily follow the books, it does follow the same idea of the series of stories, which lines up with the Disney movie version. The way they retell the story had a lot more than we’ve seen from the 1967 Disney version because it was more detailed. And although they ended it differently, we preferred this ending because it has a more realistic ending compared to its predecessor. That aside, the concepts and reasons were more believable, and it was clear that this was not designed for kids like the 1967 Disney movie was. This was designed to be a whole family movie; it’s a bit deeper, more developed and more mature with more layers, compared to the cartoon version, which a little flat. The 2016 The Jungle Book movie is a much more engaging story and it’s neat to see how they take something from the beginning that was a shortcoming of Mowgli and use it again in the end.
One thing that we liked about the ending is how the animals all accepted Mowgli, as well as how he defeated Shere Khan and was accepted as a Wolf Trainer by using his weakness at dead tree and his tricks to trick Shere Khan was also hilarious when Shere Khan falls into the fire, but in usual Disney film, you don’t see the actual death. It was a bit odd the way the elephants had been treated by the deity. It’s hard to place where this is supposed to happen, but it was a little bit strange that they kind of made the elephants almost to be like Gods, that they were the ones who created the jungle and the animals. Perhaps if the elephants had talked and sung, they probably wouldn’t have appeared as majestic. By being silent, they maintained some of that mystery and, in some ways, even demand some of the respect that the animals give them.
Bill Murray was great as Baloo. Very friendly-sounding voice and fun, he was everything you think of as Baloo. The way that they interacted Baloo with Mowgli was a lot of fun. From the trailer, we thought there would be no singing in this movie, but they did actually sing some of the Bare Necessities song, as well as I Wanna Be Like You, and Trust in Me. It was funny and very enjoyable to see Baloo as the one to really encouraged Mowgli.
We wouldn’t necessarily call it a disappointment but it’s something that was kind of iconic to the original Disney movie, which was the vultures. This 2016 version of The Jungle Book does not have the vultures, which was a nod to The Beatles back then. They could have at least is update it. Since the vultures back then were a nod to The Beatles, perhaps they could have do the same with this live action film as a nod to some newer bands. That being said, by not doing so made it timeless and respectful. Another thing that we were disappointed about was that King Louie was way too big. It looked awesome in the trailer, but seeing it on-screen was disappointing. On the other hand, his size made it more magical.
The end credits were so much fun to watch. What with the Trust in Me song that Scarlett Johanson performed meant that they paid close attention. The pages of the book popping out made it seem that books contained adventures and stories; there’s a whole world ready to be explored. Speaking of the book, that was something totally paying homage to the 1967 The Jungle Book movie, with the way the book closing was exactly how the 1967 Disney movie ended. It was a nice nod and respect to the original Disney version of the movie from 1967.
Aside from The Jungle Book, there have been other live action films that we’ve seen like Cinderella and ones that are coming up like the Beauty and the Beast in 2017, but for the whole family, The Jungle Book will appeal to everyone in the family. Have you seen the movie? Tell us what you think about The Jungle Book using the comment section below.
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