Sam’s Take: The Jungle Book (2015)

Continuing the trend of remakes like “Alice in Wonderland” and “Maleficent,” Disney Studios and director Jon Favreau bring audiences a fresh version of “The Jungle Book” in theatres now.

This rendition is not only a great example of how to do a proper remake, but will likely become a model for today’s exciting family film.

What’s immediately striking about the film is its spectacular animation. Every animal looks real, with the animators nailing the mannerisms of each creature while giving them human-like characteristics. This remains true with the background animals as well, with every on-screen animal appearing just as realistic as the main characters.

But the animals would be nothing without a solid cast of voice actors, and luckily “The Jungle Book” is full of nothing but inspired choices. With a star-studded cast rounded out with the likes of Bill Murray and Ben Kingsley, each actor brings a great performance to the table.

The two actors that steal the show are Scarlett Johansson and Idris Elba. While brief, Johansson’s scene as Kaa is beyond creepy, and Elba’s character, Shere Khan, is a constant highlight, commanding every scene he’s in with fear and intimidation. Even better, Neel Sethi does a stellar job as Mowgli, not only looking the part, but acting it as well.

Sadly, the film does stumble at points. While the nostalgic call-backs are usually clever and restrained, they become forced once they involve the original music. “Wanna Be Like You” is the awkward stand-out, ruining what could have been great scene.

The character relationships are also somewhat weak, with many connections told to us rather than shown. This lack of on-screen development lessens many scenes that should be emotionally gripping.

Despite these problems, “The Jungle Book” still stands as not only one of the best Disney live-action remakes, but one of the better remakes in film history. It changes enough things to warrant a retelling, while also remaining true to the original film. While perfect for families, this film will entertain any Disney fan worth their salt.

Samuel Goodrich, Contributing Writer

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