If the idea of fleeing from life’s hardships to become one with nature ever crossed your mind, seeing “The Jungle Book” in 3-D may give you a sense of what that lifestyle might be like.
The film is as immersive a 3-D experience could ever be. Directed by Jon Favreau – director of “Iron Man” and “Elf” – Disney’s retelling of “The Jungle Book” is a dazzling home run. The story is rich and the characters are vibrant, the CGI is next-level amazing and the 3-D grabs the audience and invites them to become a part of the thrilling adventure.
We all know the story of “The Jungle Book.” Little Mowgli (played wonderfully by newcomer Neel Sethi) is left alone when his father is killed by the villainous tiger, Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba). Mowgli is brought up as the “man cub” by a family of wolves and a firm, intelligent panther, Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley), all while Shere Khan swears to hunt down Mowgli.
We, the audience, are taken on an exciting adventure through the beauties and dangers of the jungle once Mowgli – accompanied by Bagheera and Baloo the bear (voiced by Bill Murray) – escapes from the menacing Shere Khan, who has taken control over the wolves’ village.
The CG work on display is easily the most admirable aspect of “The Jungle Book.” Not a single ounce of the film was shot on location in an actual jungle. It was shot entirely on sound and blue-screen stages in Los Angeles, which I’m sure is a corporate jungle in its own right, but it’s astonishing to witness the seamless interaction between the CGI animals and the live-action Mowgli.
The impeccable voice cast adds an extra dimension to these animals. Also in the mix are actors Christopher Walken and Scarlett Johansson, who provide wonderful standouts as Kaa and King Louie, respectively. Murray and Kingsley as Baloo and Bagheera, and their interaction with Mowgli, is what gives the film its heart and emotional resonance, and the sequences with the central villain of the piece, Shere Khan, are surprisingly intense and menacing.
There is just a whole lot of fun to be had with this film. Visually stunning, dramatically engaging and often quite funny, Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” will simply pleasure everyone who sees it.