The Jungle Book (2016)
The original Jungle Book was special in that it was the last Disney film made under the supervision of Walt Disney himself. It’s also one of the gold standards of animation in the industry. Those are big shoes to fill.
The story: Young Mowgli is raised by wolves and the panther Bagheera, but when the tiger Shere Khan threatens the animals of the jungle if they continue to harbor the “dangerous” man cub, Mowgli decides that he needs to leave the jungle to keep everyone safe. Along the way, he meets a host of zany characters including the lovable con-artist Baloo, the seductive python Kaa, and the power hungry King Louie.
This version really makes the jungle genuinely threatening, and Mowgli that much more resilient and impressive. By the time we meet him, he’s got his share of scars, and by the end of the film, he’s got a few more. I’m also a fan of how active a character he is. He’s not a weak tiny thing who has to keep being rescued; he’s a mini-MacGyver who solves problems with something none of the other animals have: human ingenuity.
The main story is understandably predictable, but the film itself is very clearly a love letter not just to the original film, but to the medium in general with nods to Apocalypse Now and other Disney greats like Bambi and The Lion King. Jon Favreau clearly did his homework as it feels like Classic Disney. Composer John Debney’s score is filled with nods to George Bruns’ original score and the Sherman Brother’s songs.
Overall, a beautiful looking film with terrific voice acting that treats its source material with reverence while keeping things fresh and entertaining.
Shout out to the gorgeous multi-plane camera version of the Disney logo at the beginning.