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sexta-feira, 15 de abril de 2016
Forget about your worries, this new Jungle Book makes perfect sense - review
Jon Favreau's beautiful CGI update of Disney's animated classic keeps the songs and the fun, and adds real emotional weight
No offence to its only human cast member – red underpants are a timeless look – but the real star ofDisney’snew adaptation of The Jungle Book is a computer-generated talking tiger.
Shere Khan, who’s voiced by Idris Elba, is a wholly computer-animated creation. But he’s realised in such extraordinarily hair-perfect detail, and moves with such persuasive physicality and weight, he might as well be the real, red-in-tooth-and-claw deal.
The spell even holds when he starts to speak, to the extent that you might find yourself wondering if a few years ago, the director, Jon Favreau, sat a real tiger down with a dialogue coach and a Luther box set, and it just worked out surprisingly well.
This film’s existence implicitly poses a question: why, almost 50 years on from the release of Wolfgang Reitherman’s unimpeachable animated version, would Disney want to go back to The Jungle Book? Shere Khan, along with the rest of its photorealistic supporting cast, is the answer. All previous live-action adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s stories (and there have been a few) have felt like studio-bound fantasies, all circus animals, rubber ferns, and vets with tranquilliser darts just out of shot. But this one – ironically, the most synthetic of the lot – has the warm-blooded, weather-beaten ring of truth.
If you’ve seen Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 adaptation of Cinderella, you’ll already have a good sense of its tone. Favreau’s film is a sincere and full-hearted adaptation that returns to Kipling for fresh inspiration, but also knows which elements of the animation are basically now gospel, and comes up with a respectful reconciliation of the two.
The Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You both make appearances – if they hadn’t, there might have been riots – as do phrases from George Bruns’ swooning overture in John Debney’s new score, and the opening narration delivered by the wise panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley). But after a high-spirits canopy chase, the plot diverts to Kipling’s story of the Water Truce, which was missing from Reitherman’s film, and soon allays fears of a word-for-word remake.
Instead, what you get feels more like a family-friendly version of The Revenant, with Mowgli (Neel Sethi), the young foundling, surviving on his wits in the wilderness – foraging for fruit, scrambling over rocks, and in one astonishing sequence, skittering down a mudslide with a herd of water buffalo. (Favreau even borrows The Revenant’s you-are-there trick of splattering water on the camera lens.)
The voice-casting of his animal companions is shrewd to the point of unnerving. Elba’s Shere Khan rings with magnificence. Lupita Nyong’o brings a gentle dignity to the role of Raksha, the mother wolf. Scarlett Johansson plays the bewitching python Kaa with a lounge-singer’s purr, while Bill Murray’s Baloo is so blissfully mellow, whenever he speaks, you’d almost swear you can hear ice cubes clinking in a glass of single malt.
The real coup, though, is Christopher Walken’s magisterial King Louie: no orangutan, but the last remaining Gigantopithecus, awaiting extinction in a trove of gold and glistening fruit. A funny, unnerving monologue about papayas is delivered in a Cosa Nostra croak, shortly before galumphing after Mowgli through the temple ruins in a genuinely tense set-piece escape. King Louie suits him – but Don Louie would have been even better.
This is all deftly orchestrated by Favreau, who manages to balance spectacle and emotion with the same intuitive touch that made his under-appreciated 2005 family adventure film Zathura so much fun. The film could have easily passed muster as a dry technical showcase, but Favreau gives it real analogue earth-under-the-fingernails charm. From king of Swingers to Jungle VIP: you have to admit, it makes a certain poetic sense.