Jungle Book 2016 3D
Forget the original - or be very disappointed
Surely everyone over pre-school age knows the story as told in the original cartoon? The songs, the humour, the tension and the angst all captivatingly represented through cartoon characters.
Whet spectacle, I wondered, could induce Disney to re-tell such a classic?
The 3D show warms up with 3D adverts and they make impressive use of the 3D facility.
Unfortunately the film doesn't explore the same depth of perception until the closing titles when cartoon bees finally seem to invade the audience. However, the movie is in 3D and generally makes reasonable use of the medium except for a couple of scenes where there's a distinct impression that the foreground image is only 2D set against a 3D backdrop. In fairness, some of the graphics are awesome but the overall impression was of a pre-release "rush" rather than a Disney-quality release.
THE VOICES & CHARACTERS
Another area of disappointment for me. Although I’m a big Bill Murray fan, his voice just isn’t sonorous enough to be believable coming from a bear the size of Baloo. And Idris Elba as Shere Khan sounded more petulant than threatening.
Given that this was a Live-Action animation I expected that it would attempt a more dramatic telling of the story and although I missed the original songs when Bill Murray’s Baloo started mumbling Bare Necessities I thought it a clever move to merely hint at the original rather than risk an unsatisfactory cover. Unfortunately I was mistaken – the full, and fully unsatisfactory, cover version was then played out.
The other voices worked OK …. I think! I don’t really recall Christopher Walken’s voicing of King Louie. The king of the apes was a very big (personality) character in the original and was equally big in this portrayal… but making him the size of King Kong was frankly superfluous and downright distracting. The only thing that could make it worse would be …. yes, you guessed it, a full cover of I Want To Be Like You-oo-oo! Oooo L
Overall, despite mainly stunning effects and visuals, the characters lacked the rounded characterisation and all the emotional roller-coaster that we associate with Disney’s magic.
This lack of emotion wasn’t helped by the story-board.
Akela’s death at the hands – sorry, the jaws – of Shere Khan was over in a blink. Presumably this was for shock value and to some extent that worked but they missed an opportunity to stir emotions through a brave dying scene and associated grieving.
Similarly, although Scarlett Johansson’s Kaa was credible and beautifully imaged, the Trust In Me scene failed to convey the suspense of any credible threat (trust me!) so the timely rescue by Ben Kingsley’s Bagheera carried no sense of relief and the whole thing was over so quickly that it lacked any of the comic relief of (sorry!) the original.
There is a lot that's good about the film but as a presentation overall you may have gathered that I was bitterly disappointed.
Perhaps my expectations were set too high by the original and by Disney’s reputation. Certainly there are others who were far more wow’ed by this film than I could imagine possible.
I won’t spoil it for potential viewers but this story ends differently – presumably to better accommodate a follow-up which I definitely won’t look forward to.
You have to make up your own minds but I can only say that I wasted good money and time and I’m left……wanting to enjoy the original cartoon classic again.