The Jungle Book Has The Best CG Since Avatar
Can a remake ever be a good idea? Yes—if it’s a live-action movie based on a 1967 animated classic, if it’s directed by the guy who did Iron Man, and if the filmmakers devote a massive chunk of the budget to top-notch, better-than-Avatar CG. Guess what? The Jungle Book is totally that movie.
From the start, Disney seemed determined that this movie be a success. The studio stacked the cast with A-list actors to voice the likes of Shere Khan (Idris Elba), Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), Baloo (Bill Murray), Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), King Louie (Christopher Walken), Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o)… okay, you probably get it. Next: the casting of the one character who isn’t CG: Mowgli. A worldwide search and thousands of auditions led them to Neel Sethi who—high-five Jungle Book decision-makers—is close to perfect in the role.
The real win for Disney, however, is in the computer animation. Every animal stalks, runs, and pounces perfectly. Every hair on the fur coat of every jungle cat bristles and sways realistically. “I thought, ‘If we really set it up, could we do something that took it the level where you were watching something that was either photo-real or pleasantly elegant and beautiful and hypnotic?’” says director Jon Favreau, who has loved the Rudyard Kipling’s story since he was a child and felt wary of the remake when he was first approached to do it. Could be that the $175 million budget changed his mind (that’s nearing Star Wars-level money/Iron Man cash).
Motion capture helped to infuse each character with the personalities of the people who voiced them. “We tried to do it enough so you would see the soul of the actor,” says Favreau, “but not so much that it took you out of the reality of the movie.”
If you couldn’t care less about CG, there are still lots of other reasons to see this movie. For example:
Christopher Walken’s singing
Bill Murray’s singing
Being legit terrified of Elba’s Shere Khan
And wolf puppies!
Jungle Book purists will be relieved that the story stays true to the original movie—although the live-action element does up the scare factor (for small children and jumpy adults both). Watch the trailer and find out what you’re in for.
The Jungle Book lands in theatres on April 15.