"No matter where you go or what they may call you, you will always be my son."
Of all fairy tales adaptations I've seen so far ("Maleficent", "Snow white and the huntsmen" and "Jack the giant slayer"), this animated movie (it looks lifelike but it consists mainly out of groundbreaking digital animations) is the the most dazzling one. I don't want to sound too excited and shower Jon "Chef" Favreau with all the superlatives that I can think of for his directing work of , but in short this film was fantastic. Not only did this film throw me back to my childhood when my innocent eyes wandered over a large picture book and sympathized with the little Mowgli (Neel Sethi). But as an adult, I also stared at this beautiful film dumbfounded.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this restyled Disney version and I can't think of a single thing to criticize. Everything looks lifelike. The jungle and overall scenery made out of millions of pixels, is phenomenal. The inhabitants of this jungle look stunning. At times I doubted whether they were digital creations or the real thing. Even their character traits are conforming. And in between all these animal activities, one single human creature moves around. Looking at it afterwards you can easily say this was a superhuman performance of this little guy. Because successfully navigating in between these digitally created fellow players wasn't easy I reckon. In terms of empathy, this young lad thrills. It's not only the design department who'll walk away with the honors. It's also the character study and the perfect mix of action and philosophical, emotional moments that make it appealing to all ages. The boundary of creepiness wasn't exceeded (my daughter thought it was terribly exciting though) and it isn't really childish at the same time. I honestly have to admit that during the wonderful scene with Mowgli and Baloo singing "The Bare Necessities", I had to wipe away an upcoming tear. Pure nostalgia.
The movie hardly deviates from the original, well-known story so to speak. According to me the only part that differs was the denouement. In my youth book, lightning struck a tree and Mowgli drove out the terrible and dangerous Shere Khan with a burning branch. Also some new features are introduced. The daily life of the pack of wolves is illustrated in detail. Certain laws were incorporated into the story such as "The Water Truce" that takes effect the moment a terrible drought occurs. And here and there are some amusing additions like the favor Mowgli does for Baloo during which he uses his human ingenuity to solve the problem. The comments of the agitated, little animals on the whole operation was extremely hilarious. And there are some masterful scenes in this film. I was most impressed about the chapter in the beautifully rendered temple where a colossal King Lowie reigns.
Not only a lot of energy was put into the visual aspect, but also in the voice cast. It felt like all voices of the elected actors fit perfectly with their characters. To bring this to a successful conclusion, they chose renowned actors: Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Bill Murray (Baloo), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Lupita Nyong'o (Raksha), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa) en Christopher Walken (King Louie). I was most impressed by Christopher Walken who apparently also has a very firm singing voice. The most amusing was that of Bill Murray. Not because of his timbre of course, but because of the textual content. So, nothing but praises for this embellished Disney Classic. Perhaps the movie isn't as enchanting as the original and the end result is a more exciting and darker version. I'd be glad when Disney would dig out the other classics, dust them off and transform them into such a visual spectacle as this wonderful film.
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