Was the world crying out for a new version of The Jungle Book? Splitting the difference between Rudyard Kipling’s original stories and the 1967 Disney cartoon, this is an unexpected success that’s so family-ready it’s baffling that it wasn’t released over the Easter break. Neel Sethi as Mowgli is the only ‘real’ thing on screen, with the rest of the jungle’s flora and fauna rendered digitally, Avatar-style. You know the story, so the real question is: do new arrivals Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley and Scarlett Johansson make good beasties? They do, with Johansson’s Kaa a particular and trippy standout, and Murray making a ballsy stab at the Bare Necessities. He’s inspired casting for Baloo: far from the only good decision in this surprise treat.Times & trailer
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