Disney's live-action/CGI remake of its 1967 animation classic is both beautiful and superfluous. Adapted from the Rudyard Kipling novel, its story of an orphaned "man-cub" (Neel Sethi) raised in the jungle by animals, who fear he will one day wield man’s “red flower” of fire against them, is a powerful allegory. The animal characters, created through computer animation, with footage of real animal movement used for reference, look spectacular. The voice actors, particularly Lupita Nyong'o as the hero's protective wolf mother and Idris Elba as the malevolent Bengal tiger, are superb. But director Jon Favreau has little else to add to the original film's vision. Viewers hoping for reprises of "The Bare Necessities" and "I Wanna Be Like You" won't be disappointed, though the awkward set-up of the latter generates the film's only sour note. With the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, and the late Garry Shandling.
By Leah Pickett