The summer season 2016 sees a load of films hit cinemas which raise a lot of questions in my mind, and I’m sure others too. We are in the midst of the superhero craze, with films like Captain America: Civil War, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad all to be released before the end of summer; comic book TV shows notwithstanding. Who knows how long it’s going to last, when we will get tired of the big budget, CGI-heavy productions that these films are, probably not for the next 5 years at least.
I mention this because the director of the Jungle Book Jon Favreau, directed the original Iron Man film back in 2008 when it could be said that this trend began, some 8 years ago. I’m not sure what to think of Jon Favreau generally (in terms of his directorial ventures, not his acting which is always fun), because he has shown in the past that he is capable of making some of the best set, character driven films of the 2000s loved by people of all ages (Iron Man but of course Elf) and then in 2010 he directs Iron Man 2… Not only that but then he directs Cowboys Vs Aliens in 2011. It’s a mixture of feelings that result in me being completely unsure about how the Jungle Book is going was going to be, resulting in lower than normal expectations, not least because the film itself is just the latest step in Disney remaking their animated classics into live-action films. I am pleased to say I am pleasantly surprised.
As said before, the Jungle Book is based on the movie and book of the same name released in 1967 and 1894 (when it was released in actual book form). Because of this, I feel as though there is no need to explain what the film is about. Similar to other books like Tarzan or other “classics” like George of the Jungle it follows a boy who is left in the jungle and is raised by the wildlife there and not completely excepted by all the different animals.
These different animals contribute to what Favreau sought as his defining aspect of the film, that it would be as hypo-realistic and as factually accurate as it could be while still maintaining the fun of the 1960s film. As the film was set in India this involved making sure that characters could actually be found in the country around that time, meaning the orang-utan was changed. These little changes, along with great focus on the CGI contributed to Favreau’s vision, which looks spectacular on-screen. Wait until you see the season change through the film and you’ll know what I mean. It really sets a new standard in the film industry, and really is the directors “Avatar”, except with a better story, executed better and overall not as overly hyped.
Adding to the wonderful package is the character casting; star-studded for sure, but the choices suit the characters wonderfully. Whether its Ben Kingsley as the wise parental figure to Mowgli, Idris Elba as the bad guy or Christopher Walkin (the less said about that the better).
Overall I’d say it’s a wonderful film, different from the previous adaptations done by Disney, but with enough similarity to stay true to the source material. There might be room for a sequel as the source material does allow for it. Say what you want about the need for sequels/prequels but that does not present an issue for the series itself. The potential issue (or rather concern) is that this is not going to be the only Jungle Book adaption in the near future. In development now is the Warner Brothers adaption. Although this adaption an equally star-studded cast, in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch and Christian Bale but this is going to be a case of studios taking the source material independent of each other and releasing the same film within years of each other. The question is, what Steve Jobs film is this going to turn out to be? The only redeeming factor is that this film is going to be directed by Andy Sirkis so I remain cautiously optimistic.