Jungle Book Review: Is This What A PG ‘Revenant’ Would Look Like?

Almost “Dark & Gritty”; ‘Jungle Book’ Isn’t So Lighthearted Anymore

2016 continues to be a year that Disney releases mature animal-themed films. Following the socially conscious ‘Zootopia‘, the latest re-telling of ‘The Jungle Book‘ is not the laugh-out-loud family film it once was. Replacing the laughs are straight-up murder & Mowgli’s attempts to stay alive.

Jungle Book

The changes from the original animated film to this are abundant. Jon Favreau’sJungle Book‘ skips the origin of Mowgli (Neel Sethi) and jumps right into the action. From there, we quickly make stops in various locations where Mowgli finds himself getting into trouble each time. One of the major complaints with the original film and this film is the lackluster story. It feels choppy & segmented; Mowgli’s story in film is told in chapters but never seems to flow into one another well. While the 2016 version transitions from one to another better than the 1967 version, the problem is still apparent.


One of the biggest changes that was brought to my attention is the lack of a chase. In the original, villainous tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) was constantly on the hunt for Mowgli. While in this film, Khan murders Mowgli’s adopted wolf father and impatiently waits for the message to get back to him. Although Mowgli was constantly in danger throughout the film but it wasn’t always due to Shere Khan expect for encounters at the beginning & the very end.

What stayed the same for me is Disney’s breathtaking visuals when it comes to this story. 67’s ‘Jungle Book‘ was an achievement for their animation and the recent rendition is a milestone for visual effects. The animals created by Moving Picture Company and Weta Digital were outstanding; each animal having such photorealism that you could count the hairs on their bodies.

Jungle Book

The acting was another major positive for me. Neel Sethi’s Mowgli is far less annoying than his animated counterpart & he showed amazing range in the film. He was really the only source for humor to me. His comedic timing was on point but that didn’t take away from the passion he showed. I hope to see more of Sethi in the future. I was letdown with the character of Baloo though. While Bill Murray did his best Bill Murray impression, Baloo was watered down compared to the original. Also, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa is a wasted role. Only used for short exposition, the role felt forgettable by the film’s end. Even though Idris Elba’s Shere Khan had limited screen-time, he was terrifying when shown.

And to whoever put the cowbell in King Louie’s temple was genius. The Bornean orangutan voiced by Christopher Walken didn’t get the chance to ask for more cowbell though.

I’m usually an advocate of making things darker but there was a pure joy from the Disney animated ‘Jungle Book‘ that is missing with Disney’s live action version. Even the songs like ‘I Wan’na Be Like You‘ & ‘Bear Necessities‘ were half hearted karaoke versions of their former selves. Fun moments like Mowgli’s bond with a baby elephant and the happy ending of Mowgli seeing his first girl were removed for a more “serious” approach. If we wanted to make more gritty ‘Jungle Book‘, I want to see what a feral Mowgli would be like trying to live among man.

Give me something different…not less than what we previously had.


EJ Moreno
EJ Morenohttp://Vimeo.com/EJMoreno
Who is EJ Moreno? Is he a trained physician? No. Is he a former Miss Universe contestant? Possibly. With a bachelors degree in film and a love of pop culture, he brings an alternative view to the world of pop culture journalism. Follow him on Twitter @EJKhryst and check out his film work at Vimeo.com/ejmoreno