With nearly 80 years of films in the Disney pantheon it was inevitable they would dust off some VHS tapes from the vault and do some remakes. On August 30th the Blu-Ray of Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book is available, so let’s talk about the success of Favreau’s vision and what it means for today’s audience.
Jon Favreau is one of my personal favorites. He’s been a comedic actor alongside Vince Vaughn in Four Christmases and in Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn! Let’s not forget his role as Eric the Clown in the classic episode of Seinfeld‘s, The Fire. Recently he was Happy Hogan, the bodyguard of Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies and the director of the first two. The first Iron Man was the catalyst of where the Marvel cinematic universe is today. Fav’s is a big supporter of practical special effects using model miniatures, sculptures, and prosthetics aided by CGI to help sell the illusion of reality. This is part of what makes The Jungle Book world so believable and compelling, but also different for the director because 99% of what we see on screen isn’t real. For the first time in his career he’s fully embracing the technology aspect of modern filmmaking, but unlike other auteurs he understands that story first is still king.
I think the characters are all wonderful. Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Idris Elba and others bring drama and comedy with seamless interactions and passion. Hopefully this doesn’t encourage your kids to start playing with any of the animals on your next trip to the zoo, but these characters are so convincing it’s possible! Parents, watch your kids! Playing with tigers won’t be an issue though because Shere Khan is legitimately scary in the best way.
This new iteration reaches all generations which is something the older Disney movies sometimes struggled with but have nearly perfected in the last decade. Favreau did a great job and before long may slowly replace the memory of the animated original.
The release includes the bare necessities along with the following special features:
The Jungle Book Reimagined – Favreau sits down with producer Brigham Taylor and visual effects supervisor Robert Legato to discuss The Jungle Book and reflect on the years they devoted to the reimagining of this timeless tale. Discover how Rudyard Kipling’s original stories and the classic animated film influenced their unique approach, witness the technical wizardry that enabled the team to create a believable and thrilling movie-going experience, and learn how they borrowed a page from Walt Disney’s innovation playbook to make it all happen. Lastly, meet the all-star voice cast who help bring the film’s colorful characters to life, as well as the musicians who accent the adventure with a majestic music score.
I Am Mowgli – Follow the extraordinary journey of 12-year-old Neel Sethi, who was selected from thousands of hopefuls worldwide to play Mowgli “alongside” some of today’s biggest movie stars. Get a glimpse of Neel’s life before Hollywood came calling, check out his audition that sealed the deal, and see how a close-working relationship with Favreau brought out his best. Plus, Neel shares how filming The Jungle Book was one wild ride, from working alongside imaginary animals to performing some super-fun stunts.
King Louie’s Temple: Layer by Layer – So, exactly how do you create a musical number featuring one man-cub, a massive, legendary ape and an army of wild and wily monkeys in the Seeonee jungle? Viewers are granted rare and unique access to the development of the “I Wan’na Be Like You” sequence in which King Louie attempts to coerce Mowgli into giving up Man’s deadly “red flower” (fire). A fast-moving musical progression reel showcases storyboards, animatics, Christopher Walken’s recording session and visual effects layers, which ultimately merge to form one of the film’s most memorable scenes.
Audio Commentary – Favreau delivers his scene-by-scene perspective on the live-action adventure The Jungle Book with all the candor and humor you’d expect from this multi-talented actor-writer-director-producer.
The Jungle Book comes out on Blu-Rawr August 30th.