Director Jon Favreau delivers an updated version of Disney's 1967 film based on Rudyard Kipling's classic book. Neel Sathi is wonderful as Mowgli, the spunky man-cub in this superb live-action, CGI-filled adventure. The story of the young boy who lives with wolves is sad and interesting and exciting.
The lush jungle is the star here, whether its a magnificent waterfall or huge trees where all manner of creatures make their home or a watering hole where diverse animals come together in peace, its majestic and beautiful. So wonderful is Mowgli's adopted home, any boy would love growing up there. So when his mentor, Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) the black panther, tells him that he has to leave because Shere Khan (Idris Elba) , the evil tiger is out for revenge. In order to protect the wolf family who took him in, Mowgli reluctantly leaves the only home he has known.
Some of the film is dark and scary, but as soon as Baloo the Bear (Bill Murray) comes on the scene, he livens up the place. Mowgli and Baloo strike up a fast friendship, the bear gives the boy some sound advice and he in turn, uses his "tricks" to climb up steep cliffs in order to get his new friend hives full of honey. Baloo's song "The Bare Necessities" is a fun highlight.
The voice talent fits their characters perfectly. Elba's deep, sinister tone gives a foreboding quality to Shere Khan, Murray's good-natured banter is just right for a bear constantly looking for a sweet treat, Kingsley who voices the panther and acts as the narrator, is commanding and Scarlett Johansson's Kaa, the anaconda, is mesmerizing.
Mowgli is the focal part of the story, so the boy who plays him is so important. Neel Sethi is terrific - his hand gestures while talking, the faces he makes while being reprimanded by Bagheera, his impatience and his boyish energy, all ring true.
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of The Jungle Book. There are some intense scenes, but there's also talking animals and fun and adventure and amazing beauty.