Disney’s no stranger to the cutting-edge developments of 3D presentation. The studio’s animated divisions (both traditional Disney animation and its collaborations with Pixar) have steadily refined how 3D is used to entertain. See Zootopia or Inside Out for recent examples of spectacular 3D. On the live-action side, Marvel and Star Wars often use 3D to enhance their stories.
Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book is a hybrid of both worlds. Meant to look like live-action, the new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic relies heavily on CGI to bring animals to life… allowing the 3D to shine in the process. This column, as many of you know, isn’t a review of The Jungle Book. You can see that here. Instead, this is a breakdown of the 3D on display in The Jungle Book, to help you decide whether or not you should pay extra to see Favreau’s film in that format. So, let’s dive in!
Though The Jungle Book is the latest in Disney’s latest push to make live-action versions of its classic fairy tales (like Cinderella before it, or the upcoming Beauty and the Beast), the way that Jon Favreau decided to create his jungle setting and his animals with cutting-edge CGI means that this Jungle Book was tailor-made for 3D. The director filmed his entire adventure in a warehouse, which gave him better control over the image, which allowed for proper manipulation when converting to 3D. This isn’t animated, but it might as well be, and we all know that animation works better in 3D.
Planning & Effort Score
Similarly, The Jungle Book makes it look like every frame was composed with 3D in mind – which is extremely impressive. Right from the very beginning, as the "man-cub" Mowgli (Neel Sethi) bolts through the jungle with a pack of wolves, we view the action through vines, leaves and braches that appear to put us IN the jungle setting. Other scenes are framed so that we look through an animal’s legs, or over a jungle construct. The enhancement that comes with 3D appears to have been considered on every shot in Jungle Book, meaning Favreau and his team worked hard to earn your 3D money.
Before the Window Score
Before the Window continues to be a missed opportunity for 3D in the modern age. Things just don’t reach out and drop in your lap during a 3D movie like they used to, and because so few films attempt it, I’m beginning to think it’s just too hard to pull it off successfully. Otherwise more films would try it, wouldn’t they? Every once in a while, a character’s vivid face will peek off the screen, be it the slinky snake, Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), with her menacing tongue, or the amusing Baloo (Bill Murray). But the instances are rare.
Beyond the Window Score
Here, instead, is where 3D makes its money. The depth of focus in Jungle Book is mesmerizing… probably because Jan Favreau had complete control over his digital imagery while constructing The Jungle Book from a green screen. Each scene in The Jungle Book is a gorgeous portrait, and one that you almost want to step into. The clarity of each scene runs deep, and you will spend chunks of minutes enjoying the backgrounds in Favreau’s excellent film.
I thought The Jungle Book was going to be in trouble here, as the movie contains several nighttime scenes. Yet, even in the dark of night, Favreau makes sure to include enough artificial moonlight to brighten his characters and his locations. And during the day, the sun-drenched scenery of Mowgli’s jungle home has an extra bit of artificial enhancement to really compensate for the dark glasses one has to wear in a 3D screening. I’d give this a perfect 5, but one stretch during the story’s final confrontation (no spoilers) gets way too dark, hiding the imagery. Other than that, the brightness is fantastic.
Glasses Off Score
Going back to the Planning & Effort section of this week’s column, every scene in The Jungle Book seems to have been constructed with 3D in mind, and that fact is proven when you take your glasses off during a screening (as I did numerous times, to test). Everything outside of young Neel Sethi was EXTREMELY blurry when I took my glasses off, from the trees in the background to the animal characters sharing scenes with Mowgli. This means an ample amount of 3D tech had been applied to the image, creating the memorable pop off the screen. Some 3D movies can be watched without glasses. That’s NOT the case for The Jungle Book.
Audience Health Score
Once again, Jon Favreau has complete control over his imagery, and the way that 3D will enhance it. There’s a fair amount of action in Jungle Book from Mowgli sprinting away from predators to monkeys carrying the young boy through the braches of towering trees. I took particular notice of this during one hectic scene, where Mowgli must dive into a herd of stampeding animals in order to avoid the vicious tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba). Favreau knew how long to leave us in the pack of stampeding animals, and when to pull his camera back to show us the scope of the action. Audience health was top of mind, and The Jungle Book never assaults our senses with its 3D.
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: Get your 3D tickets for The Jungle Book now. Seriously. As a parent, I completely understand the financial burden of bringing a family to a movie, and I do NOT recommend adding 3D prices lightly. However, if you have any interest in seeing The Jungle Book, the planning and effort Jon Favreau put into constructing this world through 3D makes it worth the effort, and I’m not sure you’d be getting the full experience in a 2D presentation.
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