Already being hailed as a new family classic, Disney's reboot of The Jungle Book has been acclaimed for its wondrous sense of fun and eye-popping special effects. Here's why Iron Man director Jon Favreau's bold adventure may well end up topping your best of the year list...
#1 It honours the legacy of the classic animation
Let's face it, pretty much everyone has seen Disney's toe-tapping, 1967 animation, right? After all, it unleashed ear-worming classics like 'The Bear Necessities' and 'I Wanna Be Like You Upon the World', immediately establishing itself as an all-time classic. (Fun fact trivia fans: it was also the last project Walt Disney himself produced before his death in 1966.)
Favreau's movie incorporates segments of these classic songs to establish continuity with the earlier version – King Louie voice actor Christopher Walken's typically eccentric take on 'I Wanna Be Like You' is said to be a blast.
#2 Yet it also stays true to the spirit of Kipling
Of course, it wouldn't be possible to enjoy either the original animated movie or the glossy modern-day remake without the inspirational and extraordinary storytelling of Rudyard Kipling's original tales. And critics have praised Favreau for meshing a family-friendly approach with just the right amount of menace and threat befitting the movie's jungle setting; Idris Elba's villain Shere Khan has been praised as the best villain of the year by some reviewers...
#3 It's a massive step forward in special effects
If you thought Avatar had set the benchmark for CGI world-building, Favreau and his crew have now taken it a step further with the visually luscious jungle world – all of which was created entirely in computers. Yes, not one leaf or branch exists in reality, the movie in fact shot entirely on sound stages in Los Angeles. Props to newcomer Neel Sethi for acting against nothing; we imagine that would be hard for adult actors, let alone young ones.
#4 The voice cast is superb
The 1967 original of course is memorable for the likes of Phil Harris (Baloo), George Sanders (Shere Khan) and Sterling Holloway (Kaa). But Favreau's movie features a whole host of modern-day A-listers putting their own distinct stamp on the story's beloved characters.
In addition to Bill Murray, Idris Elba and Scarlet Johansson as the aforementioned bear, tiger and snake, we've also got 12 Years a Slave's Lupita Nyong'o and Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito as wolves Raksha and Akela. Plus, everyone's favourite eccentric Christopher Walken as King Louie who in this version is not an orangutan but a gigantopithecus (an extinct form of ape – Google it).
#5 Neel Sethi will win your heart
We're used to hearing that the latest child star is the real deal – but in the case of Neel, it's true. Bringing just the right amount of courage and wide-eyed wonder to the pivotal role of 'man cub' Mowgli, Neel's energetic performance is the beating heart of the movie – and, as the only live-action performer in the whole spectacle, it's a pretty darn impressive performance for one so young.