Viewed – 24 November 2016 Blu-ray
I must admit I was sceptical going into this. The much loved Disney classic from 1967 was prominently known for it’s sing-a-long musical numbers and largely animal cast of characters, with the only human being a child. In this day and age of state-of-the art CGI I wasn’t too worried about them pulling off convincing animal performances. Yet that child casting and subsequent acting had to be spot on. Luckily it is.
But I digress. This classic tale follows the story of young ‘man-cub’ Mowgli, a child abandoned as a baby and brought up by a pack of wolves, along with the watchful eye of a black panther by the name of Bagheera. Yet when bitter and ferocious tiger, Sheer-khan finds out about Mowgli, he vows to kill him as revenge for being burnt by ‘man’ some years previous. So Mowgli, in order to keep him safe is sent away to find the man-village and be with his own kind, if that is he can escape the clutches of Shere Khan first.
This is very well done. The child actor playing Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a revelation; just as likeable and fun as the original character, and aiding him on his journey is lovable Bear ‘Baloo’ perfectly voiced by Bill Murray. Voice-acting on a whole is very good throughout with only a couple of questionable choices. Scarlett Johansson as a manipulative snake seems out of place and Idris Elba’s Shere Khan whilst good, is way too familiar to me (I’ve just come away from a run of Luthor episodes after all). However Ben Kingsley as Bagheera is perfect, and I got a kick out of Christopher Walken’s mobster-like King Louie. Yet the somewhat awkward implementation of the most famous songs, like ‘bare necessities’ and ‘I want t be like you (ooh ooh)’ considering the different tone, felt like unnecessary nods to the past rather than adding anything to the experience.
But for a remake that really shouldn’t have worked, this delivers on (almost) all counts with several stand out sequences and plenty of heart. Well worth your time.
Verdict: 4 /5