The Jungle Book

ADVENTURE; 1hr 45min

STARRING: Neel Sethi  VOICES BY: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken

Wild thing: Sethi

One-hundred and twenty-two years after Rudyard Kipling wrote the books, and 49 years after Disney first animated them, Iron Man director Jon Favreau weighs in on Indian jungle boy Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi). Reworked as a layer cake of spanking-fresh computer wizardry and fiery live action, Favreau's gorgeous dish brings a sparky lustre to Kipling's golden oldie.


Although abandoned as an infant, having been raised as their own by wolves (sweetly voiced by Lupita Nyong'o and Giancarlo Esposito) and mentored by a stately black panther (Kingsley), Mowgli has a cool deal going until sourpuss Bengal tiger Shere Khan (Elba) objects to a "man cub" in his domain.


On second thought, strike sourpuss for demon seed: just as Favreau's luxuriantly detailed jungle has teeth (and claws, and Johansson's squeezy, seductive python, Kaa), so Shere Khan is its predatory face. Mowgli still isn't planning on leaving, though, and it's a cinch to see why. Who would settle for a mere human village when they could buddy up with Baloo the schmoozy bear (Murray), be madly serenaded by an obese Gigantopithecus (Walken, and that would be species-speak for giant ape) and generally run wild in an outpost of paradise?