March 8, 2017

The Jungle Book

Jon Favreau, 2016
Before I ramble about all of the ways in which the Jungle Book failed to wow me, I need to point out something. I am not a non-believer in CGI-heavy film. Seeing Avatar in IMAX 3D was one of the most memorable cinematic experiences of my lifetime. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is my Star Wars in terms of it's immersive world-building and how I just want to live inside of it. I didn't even have that much of a problem with the copy-and-paste army in the Battle of Five Armies.

So going into The Jungle Book, a movie in an almost entirely CGI constructed world, I went in with an open mind and with open eyes. I am a supporter of Favreau, who has really contributed some solid films in his career. Elf, the first two Iron Man films, Chef are all well-made films. But now he is taking this direction in his career that almost feels Tim Burton like by "re-imagining" classic Disney favorites. After making this film - they are of course going to continue to wring out the proverbial sponge by having Favreau direct a Jungle Book sequel. But they are also employing him to direct a live action reboot of The Lion King. Nothing is untouched these days.

I wanted this movie to be great and impactful, especially being someone that grew up with the original animated version. I sat watching and kept waiting for it to hit me. Waiting and waiting. I realized by the mid-point that it likely wasn't going to happen. For whatever reason I wasn't ever able to make an emotional connection to anything on screen. Was it the abundance of CGI? I am not sure, because the animals all look amazing. But Life of Pi had one CGI Tiger and I was totally on board with the film emotionally.

It was a delight to see veteran actors like Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken provide the voices for Baloo, Bagheera and King Louie. But it didn't elevate the movie from more than just good grabs. Shere Kahn left more to be desired in a villain. He wasn't nearly as ruthless as he should have been. He didn't have that despicable nature to him as say, Scar in the Lion King. While Neel Sethi deserves some credit for working hard in front of a green screen, he wasn't exactly the next Jacob Tremblay (Room) with his performance as Mowgli. The best sequence in the film by far is the sequence in The Monkey City with King Louie. But the climax was just underwhelming and it just didn't feel like the stakes were high enough. Like the rest of the movie, it just seemed to run through the motions without ever being too significant.

No comments:

Post a Comment