On Friday, Disney releases its latest retelling of “The Jungle Book,” which is still best known for its 1967 cartoon version that included memorable songs like “The Bare Necessities” and “I Want to Be Like You.”
The tale follows the journey of “man-cub” Mowgli through the jungle. In this version, directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Cowboys & Aliens”), what stands out are the incredible computer graphics used to bring the animals that Mowgli encounters to life.
That’s been confirmed with a healthy $4.2 million take in the Thursday preview screening, with projections of the film taking in $70 million this weekend.
Here we break down what critics really enjoyed about the movie.
The visuals are obviously the biggest draw.
The talking animals interacting with Mowgli (played by newcomer Neel Sethi) are flawless.
“The beguilingly credible CGI rendering of real-life animals takes its biggest leap forward since ‘Life of Pi,'” The Hollywood Reporter wrote.
“I don’t know where the fakery stops and the real animals, waterfalls, and veldts begin in this movie, and I don’t really want to,” The Wrap said.
But there’s also a great story — not to mention those songs.
This certainly doesn’t have the tame feel of the cartoon, “but in a wonderful tale in which a boy learns the importance of friendship and loyalty,” as Us Weekly puts it, “perhaps this is the perfect opportunity for young cubs to earn their moviegoing stripes.
The placement of the songs that parents grew up on is also executed the right way.
“It’s not a musical and yet the deployment of two famous songs – ‘The Bare Necessities’ and ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ – feels easy and natural,” The Guardian said.
And the celebrity voices of the animals give the movie an added kick.
Part of the fun watching “The Jungle Book” is trying to figure out who is voicing the animals. Some will be hard to identify, like Garry Shandling (in his final role before his death last month). But then there are some obvious ones.
Like Bill Murray as Baloo. “Murray makes ‘The Bear Necessities’ fit into his laid-back existence as he hums and sings the song with Mowgli as they float down a serene river,” the Associated Press wrote.
Christopher Walken as King Louie, according to The Washington Post, “seems to channel both Marlon Brando and Louis Prima.”
Scarlett Johansson, as the large snake Kaa, “reinforces the notion, begun with Spike Jonze’s ‘Her,’ that she can totally transfix audiences with her voice alone,” the LA Times wrote.
And then there’s Idris Elba, who plays the villain, Shere Khan, and will definitely frighten some of the younger audience members.
“Idris Elba’s Shere Khan is the best villain of the year so far,” Uproxx said.