Every Jungle Book movie has taken bits and pieces from Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories, but none have ever told Mowgli’s exact tale. Filmmaker, Jon Favreau (Iron Man) may have come a bit closer with his 2016 remake, however, with his extreme usage of CGI, Neel Sethi’s Mowgli seems only to be living in an unbelievable dream world of giant animals.
I am very picky when it comes to computer generated images in movies, and so I have the unpopular opinion that this movie was just meh. To me, the animals in Disney’s newest film seemed almost as cartoonish as their 1967 counterparts. This is probably because I grew up with Stephen Sommer’s 1994 legitimate live action version and Nick Marck’s 1998 The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story, both of which used real animals.
Environmentally speaking though, using live animals in movies can be very dangerous, and not just to the humans on set. In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter published an expose of the American Humane Association (AHA) and their failure to adequately care for animal actors. Reporter Gary Baum found that many movies receiving the “no-animals-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-movie” seal of approval from the AHA actually did have animals injured–and even die. Because the incidents happened “off screen,” they weren’t included in the AHA’s final assessment. While Kipling created a world in which animals faithfully followed the rules of the jungle, Hollywood came up with loopholes around their own rules and regulations.
With that in mind, I can appreciate Favreau’s attempt at a primarily, CGI driven movie. According to Disney’s distribution chief, Dave Hollis, “What they were able to pull off was to push the technology in the way that Avatar and Life of Pi did. They put something up on the screen that had people not believing their eyes.” Unfortunately, the only two characters that had me questioning what I was seeing were Raksha and Baloo. The rest looked very fake (and oh my god, how big did they need to make King Louie?!). As a movie that’s striving to use technology to make their world look more realistic, two out of the thousands of animals isn’t a very high percentage. It still had a fairly decent plot with a nice “new ending” but overall, I wouldn’t pay night-time prices to see this movie. I would, however, definitely recommend picking up a copy of the book from your local library.
Featured photo courtesy of Disney