With only superhero movies or 15 certificate films as alternatives, my daughter and I opted for the Disney live action remake of Jungle Book. It was more interesting and engaging than either of us had anticipated. Firstly, the CGI is mostly convincing. This allows Disney to finally make the kind of live action movies they’ve always wanted to create. The previous versions relied on real footage of animals (Incredible Journey), which, let’s face it, you never liked as much as cartoons. The choice of voices for Jungle Book is fantastic – Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Idris Elba and Scarlett Johansson all imbue their characters with authenticity (Walken is particularly brilliant).
It’s more or less a straight remake of the animated version, but with live action the narrative has more drive, rather than being a sequence of musical set pieces (the nods at the original music in this remake seem forced). It also racks up the peril when you have realistic, fire-scarred tigers or dark, brooding jungle. This film could be quite significant in two respects. Now that CGI and live action really works, Disney will be busily combing their back catalogue to remake all their classic animated films. A live action version of Pinocchio, complete with being swallowed by whales, boys transforming into donkeys and a freaking puppet that comes to life, would be terrifying. When these stories look real and are played relatively straight, we’ll appreciate how dark they really are. And now that the CGI/live action mix has been cracked, one wonders why studios will bother with animation at all?