Nearly 50 years ago, Walt Disney released the original animated version of the Jungle Book. Inspired by the book of the same name by Rudyard Kipling. The was also the last animated film that Walt Disney himself produced. Obviously I can’t remember the original release, but I can remember my Mum taking me to see a showing of it at the West Jesmond Picture house. This was a rare treat as we never seemed to go to the cinema much. The story was fast paced and the songs and music made it memorable.
The Jungle Book – 2016
It’s amazing how an old story can get updated and brought up to date. This weekend I took my Mum to the Vue Cinema in Cramlington to see Jungle Book. Just like she had to be all those years ago. It also happened to be the second time in a week that she’d been to the cinema, previously to see Eddie The Eagle.
With the original animation being so memorable and innovative with animation technique, how would a remake film stand up to it? The answer is… Is this a film?
The opening scene sets you up for everything you would expect from Disney in 2016. The cinderella castle intro is stylised into an old style animation, emphasising the hand painted look. The Camera pans back along the river and your are in the depths of the jungle. A jungle that could be the original one from 50 years ago. As you pass through the Title logo you are in the jungle of 2016 technology. As Mowgli runs through the jungle being chased by wolves and a black panther, you can sense the peril. As Mowgli leaps over branches and tumbles the animals are on top of him and it all seems realistic, until they talk.
And this is where this isn’t just a film. It’s as much an animation as it is a film. The animals that surround Mowgli are mostly computer generated animations, which are realistic most of the time. And most of the time is good enough to draw you into the story. Just like back in 1967 techniques for capturing movement were evolving, now the animation techniques have evolved to another level of depth. Fur looks more realistic than ever, fire, water and nature has been perfected. The only area that glitched (for me) was in the speed at which some characters moved and stopped. I’m not an expert on Tigers and their movements, but I felt Shere Khan had a different gravity strength to everyone else.
I think special recognition has to go out to Neel Sethi (Mowgli) for being able to work the make believe world into a believable experience. And it was only as the end credits rolled that I thought about it. The only live actor in this film is the young Man cub! Everything that is going on around him is computer generated and he’s interacting with the characters that will appear later. For a young actor he’s done an amazing job.
Before the film started I had a discussion with Imogen’s Friend’s Mum about if there would be any songs. Surely they had to have the songs in it as they were so memorable. Then again, remember that the Cinderella remake didn’t really feature the songs as a focus point.
We watched waiting for some music and lyrics, and waited… and waited. Then a marching herd of Elephants come through the Jungle. The Young one looks at Mowgli, the Elder keeps the group Marching and… no Song! It was only much later on when Baloo is introduced that a song appears. And yes it is the Bare Necessities. Then much later on King Louie, drops a few lyrics and spoken word, then into the “I wanna be like You” classic.
I have to admit I was sceptical before I went to see this. The trailers didn’t seem to do it justice to the point of convincing me. In the trailers, the voices, didn’t seem to fit some of the characters, but that disappeared while your involved with the full production. Imogen loved it, Abigail was scared and ended up on my lap. My Mum “Throughly enjoyed it”! And it’s a thumbs up from me also.