Disney brings you The Jungle Book, a creation from their live action department from the same team who brought you the live action retelling of ‘Snow White & the Seven Dwarves’ in the form of Robert Stromberg’s 2014 Maleficent, as well as the 2015 retelling of the 1950 musical fantasy Cinderella (directed by Sir. Kenneth Branagh).  And like Maleficent and Cinderella, Disney has done an excellent job at reintroducing this classic story (originally written by Rudyard Kipling in 1894) to a brand new audience.

Directed by the man behind Elf and the first two Iron Man movies, Jon Favreau’s take on the journey of the young man-cub Mowgli is far from the joyous 1967 animated musical that it is based on and is not a light hearted tale what so ever. Although there is a great sense of love and laughter throughout, Favreau has made sure to make the essence of the film entirely centered around Mowgli’s survival and the dangers that surround him. As we travel through the movie we are constantly being reminded that the malicious tiger, Shere Khan, wants nothing more than to savagely attack his prey (Mowgli) and rid the jungle of the young man-cub forever.


The sad truth behind Shere Khan’s motives are that, although he is depicted as the stories antagonist, the vicious tiger does understand the food chain and that man is atop of that chain. His motives stem from the idea that as long as man is in the jungle, no creature will ever truly be safe, especially since man has the ability to summon ‘The Red Flower’, which is what we humans refer to as fire.

Shere Khan isn’t entirely innocent though. As the sole reason to why Mowgli was left abandoned in the first place was, years before our story begins, Shere Khan violently attacked Mowgli’s biological Father when Mowgli was a newly born child. Fighting for his life, Mowgli’s Father with his last breath struck Shere Khan in the eye with ‘The Red Flower’ leaving Khan blinded in one eye as he cowers away, not realizing he had left behind a young boy. This leaves the audience with the understanding, that although Shere Khan’s intentions are honest by not trusting man and wanting to rid Mowgli from the jungle because of the dangers there could potentially be once Mowgli comes of age, he also isn’t volunteering the information that this is a person vendetta towards Mowgli for what his Father had done to him prior.

Shere Khan is voiced by British star Idris Elba who brings a certain dominance to the role. My favorite line from this entire flick was delivered by Elba with such declaration: “Man is forbidden.”

Bagheera, the black panther, is not only Mowgli’s protector, but he acts as the audience’s tour guide of the deep Indian jungle. By reminding Mowgli of the dangers of the jungle, he is reminding the audience that this is no ‘song & dance’ tale like its predecessor, this is a matter of life and death and that the threats in this film are real. Bagheera is the Obi-Wan to Mowgli’s Luke, if you will. There is no doubt in the audience’s mind that Bagheera would sacrifice his own life for the man-cubs, and he almost does during his first encounter with Shere Khan.


Ever since Bagheera first heard the cries of the infant in the jungle, he has wanted nothing more than to protect the boy. Taking him to the wolves to be raised as one of their own speaks volumes for the honorable panther, and as much as Bagheera wants peace amoungst all animals, he also wants Mowgli to be safe. When Shere Khan threatens to break the peace act if the man-cub isn’t offered to him by the wolves, Mowgli takes a stand and tells his pack that he doesn’t want the ones he cares about to get hurt because of him and decides to leave. Bagheera offers to help Mowgli find his way back to his own kind.

Sir Ben Kinglsey offers the voice of Bagheera, and with that provides the character with a certain sense of nobility that is much needed for the protector of the man-cub. We can truly feel the love Bagheera feels for Mowgli from Kinglsey’s performance, but also, there is a strict tone in his voice. This is what separates Bagheera from Baloo. Both adore the boy and go to great lengths to protect him, but Bagheera understands the dangers that surround Mowgli far more than Baloo and understands that in order for him to remain safe, certain rules have to be put in place. Both Bagheera and Baloo, in a sense are parents to Mowgli. Bagheera being the strict Mother, there is no time to goof around on his watch, whereas with Baloo – the relaxed Father figure, voiced by the incredibly funny Bill Murray, offers more of a fun environment for the boy.
It’s highly entertaining watching the dynamic between these two clash over what’s right for Mowgli as the two bounce off of one another.

Instead of the irritable, intruding take on King Louie, this film offers a take on the character that is much more Don Corleon than a mischievous orangutan. He barters with Mowgli, offering him the world instead of trying to befriend him. It’s very much “Between the two of us, no one can stop us!” – of course, he’s completely manipulating Mowgli, who can’t actually provide what Louie wants.

Christopher Walken offers a very unique taste to this. Unlike when Bill Murray breaks into the classic ‘Bear Necessities’, which felt very natural and I didn’t feel like I was watching a musical, when King Louie breaks into song, it just feels…random. Christopher Walken isn’t the greatest singer, I will admit. But, I think what he provides this song with is a melody that feels like a classic blues song. Something you would hear in a run down Jazz bar in the 1930s by the likes of Lead Belly.


I absolutely loved the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the python, Kaa. When we first meet her, she sounds like a peaceful creature. She has the voice of a gentle Mother. At first we trust this voice, until it’s revealed to be that of a snake, and if the holy book and popular culture have taught us anything, it’s don’t trust a snake. Those hypnotising eyes WERE memorizing, when watching I couldn’t take my eyes of them, and I’m terrified of snakes! And before you know if, Kaa has wrapped herself around Mowgli ready for dinner time!

Overall, this film is a fantastic experience. The CGI is beautifully done and the casting is perfect! My only fault with the flick is that I felt the pacing was too quick. This film could of easily been half an hour longer.

Follow Jake on Twitter @IAmJakeJesus


  1. I was sceptical of a remake but now I have read your review I’m pretty intrigued and want to see it.

    Wasn’t aware of the big name cast also!

    Is it still a musical as you did mention at least two songs or are they grown in for fan service?

    As for Scarlett johansson, I’m gonna find it real hard not to be attracted to a giant snake now lol

  2. Just came back from watching it! Best movie I’ve seen in a lonnng time! Mowgli was cute but not annoying, the casting was awesome, especially Bill Murray as Baloo and Christopher Walken as King Louie. 3D and CGI were done really well. Movie catered to people of all ages – not just a kids movie! Love it! Would see it again and again! Thanks for the great review Jake!

    • you just reminded me of a point I forgot to mention – Neel Sethi was phenomenal. ive seen more established actors struggle with adapting to CGI, and as a newcomer, he did a great job! it would be a shame if he doesn’t win Best Newcomer at next years Academy Awards

  3. Great review Jake.

    I saw the film last Friday. The cast were amazing and the CGI was awesome.

    My two negatives about the film were also 2 of the points you raised. It film seemed pretty rushed for some reason, as Ron Burgundy would say, “that escalated quickly”. The snake scene was over so quick! The other problem for me was unfortunately Christopher Walken’s singing. I struggled with that, he didn’t quite nail the song enough for my liking and it seemed odd that they didn’t redo it or leave it out as it was quite bad, in my opinion…

    Anyway, aside from those little gripes, I enjoyed the film although I will also have a soft spot for the original.

    Take care,