The Jungle Book | DVD review - Disney's live-action revival thrills, amuses and delights

The Jungle Book Neel Seth.
(Image credit: Disney)

Disney’s live-action revival of its beloved 1967 animated classic based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic tales is a spectacularly entertaining family film.

The Jungle Book, Disney’s live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories, is not nearly so cuddly as the studio’s beloved 1967 animated classic but remains a spectacularly entertaining family film in its own right.

It takes a moment to adjust to the sight of the film’s talking CGI creatures interacting with impishly charming newcomer Neel Seth’s 10-year-old Mowgli, Kipling’s boy raised in the wild by wolves. But the starry voice cast soon have us under their spell.

Ben Kingsley is a purring, patrician panther Bagheera, Mowgli’s stern mentor, while Idris Elba’s fearsome tiger Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson’s seductively sinister python Kaa and Christopher Walken’s fire-desiring giant ape King Louie represent some of terrifying threats the man-cub encounters.

The Jungle Book, Mowgli, King Louie

(Image credit: Disney)

"Fun as well as frightening"

Fortunately, this Jungle Book is fun as well as frightening, particularly when Bill Murray’s laid-back hustler of a bear, Baloo, appears on the scene, lazily tricking Mowgli into risking life and limb to supply him with honey.

The film only stumbles when it comes the songs. Iron Man director Jon Favreau drops a few of the original cartoon’s Sherman Brothers’ tunes into the action – with mixed results. Murray’s off-key rendition of ‘The Bare Necessities’ isn’t a patch on Phil Harris’s original, although Walken, turning King Louie into a Brandoesque Mafioso, has a better stab at ‘I Wan’na Be Like You’.

These are minor nitpicks. For most of its running time, this Jungle Book thrills, amuses and delights.


Certificate PG. Runtime 102 mins. Director Jon Favreau

The Jungle Book, available on Digital Download, gets released on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray & DVD on Monday 22 August, courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.