The Jungle Book

Brodie's Grade: A-

Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks, based on Rudyard Kipling's novel
Starring: Neel Sethi, the voices of Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o & Giancarlo Esposito

I can't recall the last time I watched the 1967 animated The Jungle Book, it has to be north of 20 years. I remember loving it as a kid, watching it all the time. Jon Favreau's faithful adaptation of Kipling's novel, with nods to the animated classic, brings those joyful memories back and is sure to give this generation of children pleasant memories of the adventures of Mowgli.

What stuck with me as I walked out of theater, on the drive home, and as I discussed it with friends who also went to see it, was how great the voice cast was. How immensely perfect each actor was for their role. Every voice just fits, from the sinister power behind Idris Elba's Shere Khan to Bill Murray's aloof Baloo to Ben Kingsley's stately Bagheera, even the brief moments of Scarlett Johansson's sizzling Kaa and Christopher Walken playing King Louie like a mob boss, everybody really brought out the best in themselves and their characters.

Neel Sethi, the 11 year old actor who portrayed Mowgli and was the only live action actor in the whole film, deserves every amount of praise he receives. Carrying a film of this magnitude would be a daunting task for even the seasoned, Oscar winning/nominated veterans in the voice cast, but to do so with such effectiveness in his feature film debut is nothing short of astounding.

Writer Justin Marks and director Jon Favreau did a brilliant job of breathing new life into the old classic, by marrying the original Disney interpretation, with a lot more of Kipling's source novel. Favreau has a wonderful eye for the fantastic and constructs a story that is just as human as any.

Were I to find fault in the film, it's that it's almost TOO similar to the animated classic. The CGI is fantastically done, and as I said, the cast is amazing, but the question is... what sets it apart? It felt a little too familiar. I like the slick new update, but it felt akin to enjoying a fresh coat of paint.

That said, the film works, and is highly enjoyable, and audiences of any generation will enjoy themselves at The Jungle Book. I definitely recommend you go see it, and is probably worth the extra few bucks to see in 3D (I saw the 2D version).