Disney’s live-action remake of the Rudyard Kipling classic The Jungle Book doesn’t hit U.S. theaters until April 15, but the trailers already have fans on the edge of their seats. Plenty of people remember the 1967 animated version as a staple of their childhood, and it’ll be exciting to see how filmmakers managed to revive and retool the well-known story for a new audience. For instance, the characters in the 2016 remake won’t just come to life on screen, they’ll literally “jump out” at the audience, in the first-ever 3-D version of the Disney classic. But should you see The Jungle Book in 3-D? Critics warn that the remake will be a totally different experience from the Jungle Book cartoon.
Disney’s animated musical based on Kipling’s poem is considered one of the studio’s greatest productions, and, in retelling the story of “man-cub” Mowgli, the filmmakers left behind many of the elements most familiar to Disney fans, according to The Guardian movie critic Peter Bradshaw. The new movie omits many of the songs from the original, swaps old-school animation for cutting edge CGI, and adds elements of action and danger that were only hinted at in the old cartoon.
Still, the result is, according to Bradshaw, a “beautiful-looking film” that is as “spectacular, exciting, funny, and fun” as the original story.
“I’ve never seen digital rendering of talking animals look so persuasive,” Bradshaw said in his review, citing the carefully detailed CGI animation as one of the film’s high points.
Polygon.com film critic Julia Alexander seemed to agree with that assessment, adding that the film adaptation will likely change the way that filmmakers meld CGI and real-world elements in the future:
There's no question about it: The Jungle Book is one of the most beautiful movies to come out of the studio in years. The attention to detail painted on every computer generated animal is impossible to ignore and the effect is a captivating experience like no other.
Critics agree that the movie is a masterful piece of storytelling, and the visuals make the story — and the characters — pop like never before. So, given the new digital elements in the film, it could be well worth seeing in 3-D.
Still, parents who might be considering taking their kids to see the 3-D version should think it over. India’s Censor Board Of Film Certification has granted the film a “UA” rating, meaning that kids should only go see the film if accompanied by an adult. In a statement, censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani cited the visuals in the 3-D version as a major reason for the rating:
Please don't go by the reputation of the book. See the film and then decide on the suitability of the content for kids. The 3D effects are so scary that the animals seem to jump right at the audience. It's not just the story that determines certification. It's the overall presentation, the packaging and most important of all, the visual effects used to tell the story. In Jungle Book the jungle animals jumping at the audience in 3D is startling. It's up to parents to decide how much of these effects are suited for their children.
But Variety film critic Andrew Barker seemed to depart from that assessment in his review of The Jungle Book, saying that “Maintaining the buoyant heartbeat beneath all the digital flash, [director Jon] Favreau never loses sight of the fact that he’s making an adventure story for children.” Barker added that while certain scenes in the movie were “unnervingly trippy,” they “stop just short of something that would trouble children’s sleep.”
So whether fans should see The Jungle Book in 3-D will depend on lots of factors. They should consider whether violence on screen — or popping out of the screen — will be disturbing. And, if kids will be in the viewing party, parents will definitely want to watch the official trailer and think about how well their child might handle all the animal action.
Still, if the critics are right, the new version of The Jungle Book won’t just be a great movie, but a transformative event — one that will make it easy for fans to forget that the action on-screen is almost totally computer generated. And so, fans who do opt to see the movie in 3-D may get a full sensory experience, which could be well worth the price of admission.