For those of you who thought a live-action remake of the Disney classic “The Jungle Book” would be terrible, allow the critics to try to sway you.
Currently boasting a stellar score of 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, Jon Favreau‘s “The Jungle Book” is “beautifully rendered,” a “jaw-dropper,” and “a terrifically enjoyable piece of old-fashioned storytelling.”
“It’s a testament to the total-immersion powers of ‘The Jungle Book,’ from its visual splendors to its sound design, that the seams never show; even more impressive is the film’s use of its craft not merely to dazzle us but also to further its dramatic agenda,” TheWrap’s film critic, Alonso Duralde wrote in his review.
“The Jungle Book” is based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories about Mowgli, an abandoned boy who gets raised by wolves and a black panther named Bagheera. While Disney released an animated version in 1967, the 2016 film stars Bill Murray as Baloo, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa,Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha and newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli.
Analysts predict a $70 million to $80 million opening weekend for the remake, although the studio is being more conservative with a mid-to-high $60 million range.
See 11 of the best reviews below.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly:
“It’s the first talking-animal movie I’ve seen where CGI seamlessly bridges the uncanny gap between fantasy and reality. It’s also one of the few 3-D movies that actually benefits from being in 3-D … Directed by ‘Iron Man’s’ Jon Favreau, ‘The Jungle Book’ is a tender and rollicking fable that manages to touch on some grown-up themes about man’s destructive power and the loss of youthful innocence without losing sight that it’s first and foremost a gee-whiz kids adventure — though definitely one that’s a bit too scary and intense for younger kids.”
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times:
“Thanks to director Jon Favreau‘s visionary guidance and some of the most impressive blends of live-action and CGI we’ve yet seen, ‘The Jungle Book’ is a beautifully rendered, visually arresting take on Rudyard Kipling’s oft-filmed tales. Every drop of rain, every cracking tree branch, every swaying tree and (most impressively) every jungle creature in the film looks amazingly real — and yet this entire movie was filmed in a studio in downtown Los Angeles. That’s a jaw-dropper right there.”
Matt Prigge, Metro:
“‘The Jungle Book’ doesn’t try to be anything more than a well-known story retold simply, but we’re reminded even a painfully familiar tale can, when done right, still bring the magic.”
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:
“A terrifically enjoyable piece of old-fashioned storytelling and a beautiful-looking film: spectacular, exciting, funny and fun. It handsomely revives the spirit of Disney’s original film, while also having something of old-school family movies about animals like ‘The Incredible Journey’ (1963) – it almost feels like something I could have watched as a kid on TV. Yet also, weirdly, there’s a touch of Mel Gibson‘s jungle nightmare ‘Apocalypto‘ (2006).
Scott Mendelsohn, Forbes:
“All-in-all, ‘The Jungle Book’ is a remarkable achievement and yet more reason to be optimistic about Disney’s ‘turn an animated classic into a live-action feature’ sub-genre. I could quibble about the thin plot or the cribbed-from-‘The Lion King’ thematics, but the picture works precisely as intended. It’s a thrilling and visually splendid bit of popcorn entertainment that walks just enough on the wild side to make kids think they’re getting away with something.”
Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend:
“If movie-goers with no background knowledge about the film were told that all of the animals in ‘The Jungle Book’ are real, I believe a surprising number of them would believe it – even though the complete opposite is true. The movie is a benchmark in the world of CGI, and further proof that we have truly entered a new generation of technological filmmaking. Impressive as ‘Avatar’ was, Favreau’s blockbuster had the challenge of creating creatures we all know and are familiar with, and the results are absolutely stunning. Some characters look better than others, with the intimidating King Louie being at the top of the chart, and Baloo being closer to the bottom. But it’s a weighted scale because it’s all really jaw-dropping.”
Terri Schwartz, IGN:
“With impressive visual effects, a strong leading actor and well-drawn characters, Disney’s return to ‘The Jungle Book’ is a fantastic adventure film with strong messages that’s good for audiences young and old. There is some darkness to the movie that might be too much for some younger viewers, but for adults who loved the animated movie growing up, Favreau’s take on the story amplifies the 1967 animated film’s strengths while also adding new depth and emotional resonance to what was already a strong story.”
Nicholas Barber, BBC:
“One thing is clear, mind you, and that’s that ‘The Jungle Book’ is a technical marvel. A 21st-Century update of the ‘Mary Poppins’ sequence that puts flesh-and-blood actors into an animated setting, the film has an on-screen actor as Mowgli, but the animals and the lush landscapes around him are computer-generated – not that you’d know.”
Brian Triutt, USA Today:
“Favreau crafts a wonderfully imagined world for a new generation of ‘Jungle Book’ aficionados. And though it lacks the charm of the ’60s effort, there’s enough of a romp for the older fans to forget about their worries and their strife.”
Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent:
“To many, it must have seemed a near sacrilegious act for Disney to make a new animated version of ‘The Jungle Book.’ After all, the 1967 film is one of the best loved features in the Disney canon. The various live action films and spin-offs since then have been given a lukewarm response. As it turns out, the latest attempt to bring Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli to the screen is a triumph – a painstakingly crafted digital 3D movie whose astonishing visual effects are complemented by very sure-footed storytelling and tremendous voice-work.”
Lucas Siegel, ComicBook:
“The sense of adventure captured in ‘The Jungle Book’ is just as astonishing as the visual feats. The film pulls you in from literally the first pan-out shot to the very end. Again, it feels like there’s a force to the jungle itself that moves the adventure along, and even knowing the story (or at least remembering the high points) from the decades-old animated edition, it’s remarkably easy to completely lose yourself in the fun, the excitement, the shock, the nervousness, and really the whole film.”