The Jungle Book (2016)
The legend will never be the same.
Disney movie that contains no snow in December. Meh, my list of "not Christmas but during Christmas" flicks are running pretty thin, unless i dig into the "make people suffer this trash" tiers or someone introduces me to some I don't know. At any rate, get your "culturally insensitive" safari hats (because that's the world we live in) on, it's time to hop in the jungle and learn that even in nature, cats are still jerks even when every other animal can talk are friendlier than most people.
A boy is found in the woods by a panther, who then turns him over to wolves to be raised as a boy-wolf. Of course, nobody here is unaware that he's not a wolf, but the animals do tend to scold him for using human "tricks" and "taking the high road" when he can't keep up with his fellow wolves - you know, because he's a person and can't run as fast wolves. Still, life's not bad through all his years of being reared by the wolf pack. It is, that is, until the dry season comes and is particularly dry, causing a rock that symbolizes a "peace treaty" amongst all the animals - cause getting some water is more important than eating each other - draws out the local tiger. Turns out the tiger has a history with man, leaving him slightly burnt and angry, and finding out that there's a human kid with the wolves draws out of him an ultimatum. When that treaty rock is gone, and with it the peace, he's coming for that kid - no matter how many animals get dead in the process.
Of course, the rains finally come, and as the time draws closer, the wolves begin to bicker amongst themselves as to what to do. The boy cuts the confusion short by simply stating that he's gonna leave, and the panther volunteers to take him to the village of man they all seem to know about. Some traveling goes down, rather filled with the boy's constant complaining about having to leave the forest even though as far as he can remember it's been his home, but the panther assures him it's the only way he'll be safe. They meet some other animals along the way - such as elephants, which are essentially treated as jungle royalty and given credit for the jungle and everything in it existing in the first place. While crossing a field with some bison though, the tiger launches an attack - he doesn't want the man gone, he wants him dead. The panther plays defense while the boy makes a break for it, and narrowly escapes in the ensuing stampede.
The herd meets an unfortunate landslide from the rains, and the boy ends up catching a ride from a tree down-river. While he floats, the tiger returns to the wolves, killing their leader and pulling up the proverbial chair to wait for a revenge-bound boy to return for his killing when word gets out. Arriving in a strange part of the jungle, the boy meets a snake who exposes his backstory, and how the tiger killed his father who in turn burnt the tiger. As the reptile prepares itself a tasty human snack however, the boy is saved by a bear. After helping the bear to return the favor by getting him some honey, the two start to bond, and through that friendship the boy starts to favor the idea of staying in the jungle anyways - but he isn't "out of the woods" yet.
Plot's the plot. I mean, it's full of nonsense, as most old-school Disney fantasy entries are - a kid learns to talk to nearly every animal in the jungle except for elephants, monkeys, and bugs after being raised by wolves. Due to some uppity evil cat with facial scars believing a horrible prophecy will come to be should the man remain, he seeks to kill it and potentially cause the very same terrific end to the prophecy he is so adamant at stopping by killing the kid. Wacky musical numbers (although less in this than it's original animated counterpart), chases, and hi-jinks occur along the way. Honestly, it's a bit bland until we get to the point our bear friend is introduced. I also know it's in a jungle, but I'm calling it anything with trees.
Actors do a great job, with the main wishy-washy performance coming from the kid. It isn't to say that he's always doing a bad job - I imagine almost anyone would have a hard time acting with the amount of CG used in this thing - but rather there are a few line deliveries that are pretty sub-par. Normally, this would be expected - but in this day and age where we have things like Stranger Things and a handful of other flicks that have had stellar child performances, it's worth noting. Considering that ninety-eight percent of this movie is computer generated animals do thing "acting", we'll flow immediately into the effects work and how it's both impressive and equally not fooling anyone. Although the animals all look great, animations can be kinda rough - and hair or fur is just a really rough thing to get completely believable when it comes to computers, particularly in motion. Still, things do look pretty well off at any rate.
The music is standard fair mood enhancement, with the exception of the two musical numbers - unless you want to cheat and include the credit-roll number from the snake. The bear necessities number has a bit of chaos to it - Murray and the kid don't quite mesh up together when singing it (which lends a bit of credibility to the scene, but downfalls for the song itself). I'm not entirely positive who thought it was a genius idea to have Walken sing, and I suppose it worked fine for the character of a giant monkey and all, but man oh man is it... interesting? Of the three, the re-positioned snake song from Johansson is probably the closest to be alluring - with maybe the exception of a "cleaner" version of the Bear Necessities, since that song is about as catchy as they come.
It's not a bad movie, but I hardly think it's the best thing Disney has on offer. It looks good and pretty, has mostly decent or good acting, and does an alright job of trying to tackle something that used to be drawn into the "real world" - although I question if it can be called a "live action" movie when the only thing I'm convinced is actually real is the kid. Not that I can't understand the benefits of not putting a kid in a filming room with an actual angry tiger or anything - just pointing out the obvious really. The biggest complaint I really have about this thing isn't even so much the movies fault as much as (as far as I know) it's original source - if a giant monkey "king" knows the word for fire, it's ridiculous that he keeps calling FIRE a red flower.