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The Jungle Book by John Debney (Review)

posted Apr 18, 2016, 5:01 PM by Kaya Savas

Jon Favreau’s directorial work is not large, and by no means is he a 1-composer type of director, but he does have a great working relationship with John Debney who seemed like the perfect fit for this live-action re-telling of The Jungle Book. Debney composed Elf, Zathura, Iron Man 2 and now The Jungle Book for Favreau. The film is essentially a big immersive fairytale, and does a great job of building this universe of tribal animals and the man-cub who is raised among them. Debby is in his element with a lush orchestral score that embodies a great theme and exciting adventure for a score that pulls you into the story.

Debney opens the score with a direct quoting of George Bruns’ score to the 1967 classic animated film, and then jumps right into it. The music as a whole is lush and warm with some exciting action passages that drive up the intensity of the film. Favreau pushed his PG rating as far as it would go, and that’s great because he was able to instill dramatic tension and danger which in turn made the film engrossing. The score still had to be part of the Disney cannon and as such is the reason why two of the Sherman Brothers’ classic songs made it into the film. "The Bear Necessities" works, "I Wanna Be Like You" kind of works. Neither really detract from the story and score’s flow. I’m glad "Trust In Me" was delegated to the end credits, it seems like they recorded it expecting it to be in the film but don’t worry there’s no singing snake. The score’s main theme is warm and encapsulating, it creates a grand feel of majesty. The theme is definitely very John Barry-esque and calls back to Out Of Africa. Some parts of the score also reminded me of Goldsmith’s Congo, but as a whole Debney kept his voice throughout the score. The score never dips into “jungle” music, and the percussion does just the right amount of work to make it seem a bit tribal. Overall the score is the glue that holds this adventure together, and there are some grand beautiful moments that make it memorable.

John Debney’s The Jungle Book is a rousing score mixed with grandeur and adventure. The sweeping nature of the score will remind you of classics like John Barry’s Out Of Africa and Jerry Goldsmith’s Congo, but Debney’s voice remains strong throughout. The music creates majesty, danger, excitement and warmth to make it a very memorable re-telling of The Jungle Book.