The Jungle Book
A superbly, immersive 3D experience with amazingly photo-realistic animals that made this film utterly engrossing and a pure delight to watch! The voice cast were spot on and Jon Favreau's direction, with Justin Marks' script, layered the film's inherent child-friendly appeal with a dark, yet never overly bleak or scary, overture that made it as much fun for adults as it will definitely be for children.
The 3D-technology deployed here was astounding. It was never distracting and extremely immersive. Never since Avatar has 3D been so well utilised. Coupled with the most photo-realistic CGI tiger since Life of Pi, and multiplied it by 10 - or 20! - and you will be forgiven for thinking that you were not watching a NatGeo wildlife documentary.
Favreau's action sequences were fun to watch and the chases through the jungles really showcased what technology can do to amplify's audience engagement and entertainment. The only biggest nitpick was the final scene where the action happened in the night and the darkness, coupled with 3D, made the action difficult to follow.
The story was a classic and needs no introduction. Although there was nothing really original in this re-telling, it retained the heart and emotional core without becoming too sappy or didactic. And Idris Elba's Shere Khan was a brilliant villain - an antagonist that you could really root against.
Favreau and Marks retained some of the original cartoon elements and the throwback were fun. The musical elements felt organic to the story without being too whimsy - and honestly who does not enjoy Baloo singing "The Bare Necessities". Although Christopher Walken's King Louie's "I Wanna Be Like You" was slightly jarring in the beginning. And it was a wise choice to not have Scarlett Johansson's Kaa to sing "Trust In Me" until over the end credits.
Neel Sethi as Mowgli was perhaps the weakest "cast member" and seeing him does sometimes bring you out of the jungle. Otherwise, the whole voice case was brilliant. From Ben Kingsley's stately and aristocratic Bagheera, Bill Murray's bumbling yet heartfelt Baloo, Lupita Nyong'o's tender and motherly Raksha Elba's villainous Shere Khan, Johansson's terrifying seductress and Walken's oddly egocentric King Louie.
At 105 minutes, this simple and heartfelt story moved along steadily and will easily hold the attention of the young ones. Coupled with the immersive 3D it might even feel too short for some. And watching it on IMAX definitely enhanced the experience.