The original 1967 Disney animated adaptation of The Jungle Book is fondly remembered for good reasons – the last feature length cartoon that Walt Disney himself had anything to do with, it’s one of the best examples of the company’s earlier work. Recently, the giant American studio has been attempting various live-action versions of their back catalogue, including Cinderella and Maleficent as well as other less successful efforts, and this latest example is perhaps their most ambitious to date, seeing as almost the entire cast are computer-generated animals. Thankfully, it’s also their most artistically successful, as a combination of state-of-the-art special effects and a sensibly modern approach to the problematic source material make it the equal of its animated forebear.

As director, Jon Favreau manages to meld his visually imaginative use of CGI that served him well on Iron Man and Iron Man 2 with the human touch he utilises so effectively on the likes of Chef, and takes what was a whimsical musical and turns it into a more straightforward adventure story (though some amusing references are made to the absent songs). The talking animals are so convincing it’s almost scary at times, but even more impressive than the special effects is the way the film’s heritage is handled. The earlier Disney cartoon is gently evoked while also updated, and the nasty colonialist undercurrent of Rudyard Kipling’s writing is neatly side-stepped, leaving what could well be the definitive version of a familiar and powerful story.

Quite possible some of the most convincing CGI ever portrayed in a film so far9
A weird kind of remake of both the animated version and Disney's other film The Lion King7
Jon Favreau's ability to handle blockbuster films without losing sight of character and story8
The decision to reject the uncomfortable colonialist attitudes of the original stories9
Probably the best version of The Jungle Book committed to film8
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
Bechdel Test Failures
  • None of the named female characters talk to each other
8Overall Score

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