When I first saw the trailer for this film, only one thing was going through my head. Christopher Walken as King Loui??? Sold! You sold me movie! Okay, on a more serious note, I had mixed feelings going into this movie. On one hand, I'm absolutely tired of the Disney remakes. They missed on Alice in Wonderland (and the sequel doesn't look any better), Maleficent seemed pretty silly and clichéd, Cinderella was hit or miss, and with only more remakes on the way of Winnie the Pooh and Pete's Dragon...let me tell you I'm really not looking forward to the future too much with Disney's remakes, and don't get me started with Marvel and Star Wars. Cool your jets Disney. But this one got me into the theater, and as I sat myself down with my popcorn and cherry icee (my trademark kind of thing), I held nothing but high hopes. And by the times the familiar music begins to play and your transported into the deep of the jungle, you realize that you're witnessing a remake that probably actually needed to happen, and you realize that Disney has finally hit that bullseye when it comes to their remake plan.
For those who don't know, I'm not that big a fan of the original animated classic of this film. Nothing against it really, I just don't really find it to be that interesting. There's too many subplots and side-characters that get pushed out of the screen, and it's just not all that gripping of a story. The remake sees this, and does something about it, and I'm actually kinda impressed. The wolves aren't just shelved at the beginning, the villain Shere Kahn doesn't just wait to appear until the end, he actually plays a much bigger role in this film, there's action to keep you into the story, and you know...I for one am thankful that it doesn't do too much to stray from the original concept. And it doesn't rely on prophecy! Alice in Wonderland and I'm gonna throw in Maleficent kinda do that. The people behind this movie knew what they wanted to do. Remake a movie, but not go overboard. And honestly, they near perfectly balanced out the original concept with their own unique personal touches.
That's not to say the movie is flawless, because Lord knows it isn't. There were a few scenes I found myself laughing at at how silly it was, or rubbing my head at because of how forced it seemed, or a few scenes in general I felt jsut...didn't need to be in at all. And I'm not gonna spoil anything, but there were a lot of scenes particularly toward the end that were guilty of this. Just little moments that didn't make sense to me as to why they were included. Okay I gotta talk a little about certain moments, so if you don't want anything spoiled skip to the next paragraph, but know that NOTHING MAJOR WILL BE SPOILED. The first scene that I really rubbed my head at was Baloo's sending of Mowgli away. When we were maybe halfway through the film. I didn't mind the talk that they were gonna do, but the whole "Mowgli we were never friends" thing was just so forced, and so...well for lack of better words, bullshit phony that I just rubbed my head at it. Did we really need a buddy-cliché of the two friends having that kind of blow-up argument? It felt so unnatural and forced. Another thing I really kinda felt was unnecessary was toward the end when Mowgli is facing off against Shere Kahn, and a wolf puppy who has been worried and wondering about him is suddenly scared of him simply because he has the fire in his hand, and the fact that half the jungle is now in flames. It's like...come on, you know why Mowgli is there...to me personally, it just didn't fit the picture.
Another thing I kinda took minor annoyance at was the somewhat forced inclusion of the iconic music. As amusing as it was to watch Christopher Walken do his rendition of "I Wanna Be Like You", or Bill Murray break into a jam of Bare Necessities, none of it felt natural enough to make me think that the movie earned the right to be a musical number. And the fact that those are literally the only two songs from in the entire movie, makes me think that they just put them in to give you a playful nudge of nostalgia. A sense of "Hey, you remember this song? From the original movie? Yeah we're doing that!" And that's not to say that they didn't perform it well, because I thought Bill Murray and little Neel Sethi (who didn't do that bad a job for his debut on screen) performed the song rather well, and Christopher Walken...well he was Christopher Walken, but the songs just didn't fit the movie in general if you ask me. I honestly don't think they needed to include them. With that said, the musical score of this film is a wonderful treat. I wasn't joking when I said that by the time you hear the first few notes, you're immediately immersed in this film.
Despite the few clichés and other annoyances that I didn't care for in this film, I love what they did with the original story. Everything has a set purpose in this film, and a select role, and even if it can seem a little weird at times, the original animated film doesn't come close to this kind of storytelling. One thing I actually found kinda cool was that the elephants, though their role was minor, they actually contributed much more to this film than anything the elephants did in the original. The same can be said about literally every other animal in this film. Even the main characters do more. This is how a remake should be done! You don't wanna just rehash the film you're looking to do, and you don't wanna stray too far from the original concept. You want to reinforce what people love in the first place, and for the most part this film does that. The main characters are incredibly portrayed, the casting was spot on, the added action and faster pace is welcome, and...I can't believe I'm saying this, but the ending, which isn't the same...is open to interpretation, and I actually kinda like that. We don't get a solid answer for an ending of this film. And...I like it. I like it a lot.
The Jungle Book is a solid three star rating out of four. As far as Disney remakes are concerned, it's their strongest one yet, and honestly, I don't think it'll be matched in the near future. From solid visuals, strong character, and just an overall better storytelling experience, The remake has proven it had what it took to be worth our time. It doesn't just lean on nostalgia, it adds its own touch to what many call a timeless classic, and but the time those credits are rolling, you're already satisfied. A movie I originally was only going to see because of Christopher Walken turned out to be much more than a silly remake I originally predicted. It's got a kick to it. If Disney can harness that magic to it's future remakes and other projects, perhaps there's some reason for other things to be made in the future. Maybe not. I still have no plans to see other planned remakes, but I am glad I saw this one.
Please feel free to request or suggest any movie you'd like me to review. Leave a comment describing your own thoughts on the movie down below, and as always, thanks for reading.
Final Verdict: 3/4