Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is a man-cub who was raised by Raksha (Lupita Nyong’O) and her pack of wolves. When Mowgli’s life is threatened by Shere Khan (Idris Elba), a tiger who had been scarred by a grown man’s fire torch, Mowgli takes it upon himself to leave the pack to ensure everyone’s safety. He embarks on a journey to return to his village with the help of a black panther, Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear, Baloo (Bill Murray). But Mowgli’s journey gets abandoned when he returns to confront Shere Khan once and for all.
The live action remake of The Jungle Book truly didn’t disappoint. I found myself at the edge of the seat several times whenever Mowgli had one of his ‘close-call’ moments. In a lot of ways, this version made a more believable world as compared to the cartoon version. Seeing the animals and greenery in its true form created a connection for me, which sucked me into Mowgli’s world fully. I found myself wincing whenever Shere Khan talks and even moving as far back into the chair, when he comes close to the screen.
Needless to say, the talented actors who voiced the characters couldn’t be more perfect. I especially loved how Christopher Walken as King Louie reminded me of an Italian mob boss. The lines he delivered had that Italian-American accent which made me chuckle especially when he said, “Kid, I got ears. My ears got ears.” It was such a mob boss line. And of course, no one can sound more scary than Idris Elba. His voice was such a perfect match for the role of Shere Khan – which randomly led me to think if tigers sound like him if they can talk.
Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray were also perfect for the roles that they play as one embodied the proper and stiff character of the panther and another the free-spirited, funny character of the beloved bear. Lupita deserves special mention as well for her role as Raksha. Compared to her previous voice role as Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this role brought out her motherly side – making me tear up when Mowgli said goodbye to her. Scarlett Johansson as Kaa was equally good too (especially with the faint, echo-y enhancement added to her voice) and, I loved how they didn’t forget to input the hypnosis her character does to Mowgli.
The Jungle Book was truly a successful live remake of a classic animated film and I simply can’t wait for more live remakes to come. So, here’s to waiting till Mulan hits the big screen!