The Jungle Book – Good News, Bad News

  
Good News: The animation is just staggering. CGI still struggles to convincingly render people (the one element they’ve not tried to recreate) but it seems that everything else is now possible. Animals, trees, flowers, rain, fire, waterfalls, they all look incredible.

Bad News: The animation is amazing but it has none of the charm of the original 1967 version.

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Bad News: Because the animation is so realistic, when the tigers, giant apes and snakes snap, swipe and leap at the screen it could be frightening for young children. The film is rated PG for good reason.

Good News: Fortunately these scares are fairly well signposted, giving parents the opportunity to get in there with a preemptive cuddle or some whispered words of reassurance before they occur if necessary. Such a plan got me through a viewing with my jumpy six year old and overall she really enjoyed the movie.

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Good News: The voice cast for the film is very good. Bill Murray works really well for the slightly more flawed and initially self serving version of Baloo presented here and Christopher Walken makes skatting King Louis newly threatening. Ben Kingsley is fine as Bagheera as well but I just kept hearing Trevor Slattery.

Bad News: It might be my nostalgia tinted spectacles but, good as they were, I don’t think this new group of voice over actors matched those that came before. This is most obvious with Idris Elba’s Shere Khan. He is threatening and intimidating enough but he had none of the delicious gentlemanly menace that George Sanders brought to the role.

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Good News: A couple of the classic songs have survived the updating. ‘The Bare Necessities’ still works well in this context.

Bad News: ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ doesn’t.
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Good News: Baloo looks like Paddington

Bad News: Baloo doesn’t really look like Baloo. I miss Shere Khan’s chin from the original cartoon film too.

  
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Good News: The original Disney cartoon was a very male centric tale and the makers of this new film have addressed this to some extent. Kaa the snake has had a gender switch and now has the tones of Scarlett Johansson and Mowgli’s wolf mother Raksha has a much increased role. (Although she is played by Lupita Nyong’o so I just heard Maz Kanata.) I am pleased to say that the simpering, flirty girl collecting water from the river has been completely removed from the story as well.

Bad News: That’s still only two females in the entire cast. There are all kinds of supporting animals that could have been ladies too.

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Bad News: Much of the story has been lifted from the Disney cartoon so it all feels very familiar and there is less suspense as a result. 

Good News: They have changed the ending quite significantly and this, for me, was one of the best parts of the film. Barely any of it is taken from Kipling though.

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Good News: There is a lot of jungle.

Bad News: There’s not much book.

  

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