Well, the time has finally come. The brand spanking new Jungle Book has finally been released. So I marched my fiancée by the hand and to the cinema we went to watch the greatly anticipated spectacle….
Months ago I was ecstatic to learn that the infamous John Debney had created the musical score for the new Jungle Book. I truly believe John Debney to be one of the biggest and best contributors to the world of music in film. He’s diverse with a bursting portfolio of soundtracks under his belt consisting of a wide variety of genres from rom-coms, drama, children’s film, biblical, historical, biographical etc.
Sometimes I think people automatically assume that a rom-com soundtrack isn’t worthy of the same quality of score as a big global blockbuster. However, our Master Debney proves this is not to be the case as he’s the orchestrated wizard behind many of our favourites; No Strings Attached, Valentine’s Day, The Change Up, Evan Almighty AND y’all 90’s kids out there….Hocus Pocus! In addition to the above films he also created music from ‘Jobs’ (Steve Jobs’ Bio) and ‘The Passion Of The Christ’ which were deeper and more stormy demonstrations of his more dramatic sounding scores that went onto lead Debney towards a slightly darker sound, perfect for a Disney film with a bit of shade.
I was delighted when I heard actor and producer Jon Favreau was also on board for this film so I pretty much ran to my calendar with a permanent inker to mark the release date. HUGE Favreau fan! I recognise genius when I see it. Favreau and Debney when working together create fireworks, in fact they’ve worked on a very small film together already but I doubt you’ll have heard of it… Iron Man?
It might also surprise you to know that this is not the first meet cute between John Debney and Disney, no kids, they’ve met before through films such as ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ and as mentioned before ‘Hocus Pocus’ to name just a couple. So with his shimmering history in the world of music combined with his sprinkle of familiarity in the magic of Disney…..The Jungle Book soundtrack was made.
The introduction gave me the chills as soon as it started. I can appreciate that it’s important for the re-make not to be an exact replica of the original film, however I found the ‘hats off’ gesture to the original music heartwarming. It’s a perfect way to start the film off, especially for all those original fans out there that recognise it’s also the same visual opening scene. The only difference is the evolution of animation from a cartoon jungle to a confusingly real life computer animated jungle. Wow right?!
I won’t go into vast detail on EVERY single track from the soundtrack but i’m berry picking a few of the real juicy ones to talk about. So on that note my second track selection is ‘Mowgli’s Leaving- Elephant Theme’. An emotional little number assisting an emotional part of the film where Mowgli is to leave his wolf pack. It sounds so reflective of the heavy rain of the scene and sounds both as sad and downcast as the weather except with a majestic ceiling as the song progresses. The beauty of a soundtrack is that it possesses the ability to carry you into the film without even having to watch it. This track is a perfect example of just that.
Having said that….I felt the new twist on Baloo was astounding and Bill Murray was such a perfect choice. Both very different in character but both possessing the same playful and fruity charisma. The new bear was animated in such a way to make Baloo look so life like including all his mannerisms. Prior to watching the film I really struggled to comprehend HOW the makers were going to execute the ‘Bare Necessities’ track and how would it work with such a realistic looking bear. Would they make him dance, wear coconut shells on his head or swing from trees? Thankfully, I needn’t have worried. Bill Murray transformed the character into something new and superb. Beautiful interactions with Mowgli and a realistic singing bear were just the touches the new film needed to differentiate the character from the original. Admittedly Bill Murray is no singer so the vocal ability was not top class but that just made it the more endearing and entirely fun to watch.
I like change, i’m fairly good with change so, the new Baloo….i’m cool with that! The fact that Kaa is now a girl….i’m a fan of that! Even the fact the elephants didn’t talk, I was cool with that. King Louie? Well…
I really didn’t like King Louie! There I said it…
From an artistic animation point of view he was spectacular in every way. However, I found him intimidating, psychotic and quite frankly terrifying. Perhaps the portrayal is better suited in some horror/science fiction take on Planet of the Apes. King Louie is supposed to be fun and uplifting with a cheeky and fun side surrounded by friends who share his zest for music and dance. I feel the main problem was the choice of voice from Christopher Walken. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan but I felt his voice simply did not match the character. When the song ‘I Want To Be Like You’ started to be sung all I could hear was struggle, it sounded as though Walken was straining and couldn’t quite hit what he was aiming for. As previously discussed, Bill Murray is no star vocalist but he used it to his advantage to create a playful song to match his character. Due to that, I was hoping for this classic to be something different. As a result it’s the one song from the soundtrack i’ve not downloaded. Have a listen, tell me what you think….
In summary, thank you Jon Debney and well done John Favreau. Despite my small hiccup of controversy at the end, the soundtrack was a delight to listen to and the film was amazing to watch. It’s always important to leave on a high note, so to show no hard feelings check out this AWESOME King Louie 360 Video Experience.