Color me impressed, because this movie knocked my socks off and even offered me a cigarette afterwards. I’m not a hardcore fan of much of Jon Favreau’s movies (Iron Man 1-3, Elf, Cowboys & Aliens). I say that because typically his movies are visually stunning but leave me wanting more in every other aspect of the movie. The Jungle Book is not the case. This movie did everything right, and then some. Its visuals alone are so great that I feel I’ve never seen anything like it thus far; CGI animals are hard to pull off, but the realism is beyond impressive.
The voices, on the whole, are stellar. Bill Murray kills it as Baloo. Ben Kinglsey, as always, is spot-on with Bagheera, the panther. Idris Elba (emoji with heart eyes) nails it as the nemesis, Shere Khan, the tiger. Chrisopher Walken as King Louie had me question the casting initially, but the man did a really nice job. My sole problem with this movie was Kaa’s voice. With Scarlett Johansson as the voice, it was painful to listen to because she’s known for her bosoms, body, and heroine attributes- not her voice. It was difficult to picture a snake when she talked; all I could hear was the Avengers’ Black Widow. But let’s pay special attention to Neel Sithi as Mowgli. This kid, with his first full-length feature, was probably talking to Styrofoam heads or sticks that served as the CGI animals, but he delivers some rich emotion and makes you believe.
The pacing through out the movie is timed nicely as we are lead to and from major characters. Original songs from the animated version of the movie are revisited and performed playfully without seeming forced. This movie brings in some dark territory regarding death and man versus animal while still keeping it light for the kiddies. And even though, yes, I’m obsessed with action, The Jungle Book gives us action scenes without them becoming overbearing or taking away from the emotion of the movie.