I was nervous as I sat down to watch the “live action” Jungle Book. (Can it be called live action when all but one character are animated?) The animals just looked too big in the trailers. They were too big, but it is less of a problem than I anticipated. The animals – THE ANIMALS are beautiful & very well animated. Excellent voice cast. Watching this movie you really believe that these are real animals with feeling and language.
In spite of it’s animated inspiration, this is not a movie for young children. Unless they watch National Geographic specials all the time they will probably get scared at animals acting like animals, and some catastrophic natural events. I did appreciate that Mowgli actually had scrapes and cuts, even if they were tamed down for the film. Neel Sethi was a wonderful choice for Mowgli, even though he wasn’t always believable. It must have been difficult being the only actor in a sea of animation. Keeping that in mind as well as the fact that this is his first role in film, he did pretty well.
I appreciated the nods to the animated movie in the music cues, I truly did, but the movies biggest weakness was when it tried to BE the animated movie. King Louis singing? No, just no. That was painful. I even gave them Baloo singing, even though it didn’t quite fit. It is closer to the book and includes more of its flavor and worldview (elephants as creators, for example) than the animated movie. It should have stuck with that and left the singing alone. That sole change would have been a huge improvement. As is, I liked the movie, but feel a tad letdown that it wasn’t able to shine as its own creation.