‘The Jungle Book’: ’ impresses with great acting, realistic cgi

Jack Johnson is a columnist for the College Heights Herald.

Jack Johnson

“The Jungle Book,” directed by Jon Favreau, is the second adaptation Disney has done for Rudyard Kipling’s original 1894 book. However, this is the first time it’s tackled a full CGI approach to the tale. Luckily, the studio does a fantastic job.

On a visual level, the film is extremely entertaining. While there aren’t many particularly stunning shots, the movie’s lifelike effects and realism are very impressive.

Also impressive is Neel Sethi as Mowgli, the protagonist of the film. This actor is only 12. Considering that the movie is heavy on CGI, Neel killed it in the acting department. The quality of his performance was actually surprising; at no point did Mowgli’s character become annoying or burdensome. The performance is genuine, and you start to care about the little guy as soon as you meet him.

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Let’s not leave out the other performances, though. The cast is phenomenal, and the voice acting here is just as good as Neel’s onscreen portrayal. Most notable are Idris Elba as the menacing Shere Khan, Lupita Nyong’o as Mowgli’s adoptive wolf mother Raksha, and Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, who serves as Mowgli’s mentor and protector in the jungle. Every single performance here is top notch. One scene early in the film involves a goodbye between Raksha and Mowgli that legitimately put tears in my eyes. There was an audible sadness in Nyong’o’s voice that really drove the scene home. Conversely, every scene that features Shere Khan is instantly 100 times more menacing. Elba’s voice delivers a sinister cadence to the villain as motion capture techniques paint a picture of an angry, embittered tiger.

And don’t forget Christopher Walken; he plays King Louie, a giant ape mob boss. It’s ridiculously cool. Hearing Walken sing “I Wan’na Be Like You” is a treasure all its own.

Ultimately, I wish the movie had run just a little longer. The chemistry between characters is already believable and organic, but more focus and down time could have pushed the film beyond great. For this reason, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the source material.

“The Jungle Book” is sure to leave you in a good mood. It’s a little film with a lot of heart, and I hope Disney goes on to make more films like this. Can you imagine how much money a CGI “The Lion King” would make?