King Louie: Affably Evil or Faux Affably Evil? We never get to see if he intended to keep his proposed bargain with Mowgli. It's not hard to argue that he stood to lose little by keeping it (Mowgli only cared about staying in the jungle, not riches, and once he had the Red Flower Louie would be Shere Khan's enemy, regardless of what happened to Mowgli), but he might have betrayed him just For the Evulz.
This version of Louie seems to believe that creating fire is an innate ability possessed by humans (and only humans) rather than a natural phenomena anyone with the right skills and knowledge can do. As such, he may have been willing to tolerate Mowgli as he believed he was the only way he would ever be able to control the red flower. But if he ever learned the truth, would he still uphold his end of the deal? Or would he pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on Mowgli?
Kaa: Evil or neutral? She tries to kill Mowgli as in the original film, but there's no particular indication of malice, and no one ever accuses her of breaking the jungle law. As far as we can tell, she's just hungry. While the Jungle Law forbids killing humans in the book (due to the fear of retaliation), it is not stated in the film, so it may have been Adapted Out.
There's also a third option: she's clearly not on anyone's side but her own and her motivation (food) is entirely understandable, but she's also not above "playing" with Mowgli a little before eating him.
King Louie's Adaptation Species Change. Some have said that it's an interesting move and gives an unusual, but otherwise little-known, prehistoric animal a chance to be in the public eye. Others have stated Favreau's reasoning (orangutans are not found in India) seems slightly erroneous and that a slight case of Misplaced Wildlife is more forgiveable than a major case of Anachronism Stew. Furthermore, the fossil record shows that orangutans did live in India around the same time as Gigantopithecus did - so the Adaptation Species Change is probably also driven by the Rule of Cool. Some have even pondered why Favreau simply didn't just remove the character entirely.
The ending, considering how the original ended with Mowgli returning to the village while the live adaptation ends with Mowgli living in the jungle still. Some have argued that this misses a major theme of "the novel", while others argue that this theme could be easily interpreted as a pro-segregation moral. What those arguing in the former forget is that the "The Jungle Book" is a collection of short stories with the first three being about Mowgli and in those stories while he did go to the Man Village, the Mowgli stories in the first book ended with him returning to the jungle. He did not fully return to the people of his birth until the final Mowgli story of "The Second Jungle Book."
Genius Bonus: King Louie's appearance as a scaled up alpha male orangutan, complete with distinctively facial frill, is this on several levels. Firstly, DNA testing has revealed the orangutan as the closest living relative to the Gigantopithecus. Secondly, most scientists now favor the interpretation that they looked like orangutans as a result of that relationship. Finally, the frill not only asserts his position as the dominant ape in the temple (hence "King" Louie), but combines with both the generally obese look of alpha orangutan males and the indications of his lazy, gluttonous lifestyle to enforce the thematic image of a stereotypical obese yet dangerous mob boss.
Harsher in Hindsight: The collapse of the Monkey Temple is a lot less funny now, in view of contemporary real-life destruction of cultural heritage.
He Really Can Act: More like "THEY" can. The entire voice cast impressed with their respective roles as the Jungle animals. Idris Elba as Shere Khan was widely acclaimed by the film's release.
Just Here for Godzilla: Christopher Walken as King Louie was the sole reason a few filmgoers bought tickets. Whether they felt it was worth it is more debatable.
Memetic Mutation: As usual, Walken's lines are prone to this. "I got ears. My ears got ears!"
Shere Khan murdering Akela in hopes of baiting Mowgli into seeking revenge.
Shere Khan:Well I guess it's done then....unless I can draw him BACK OUT!!!!
King Louie telling Mowgli about Akela's fate doesn't sound like one on paper, but just how callous he says it and saying how it was probably on account of Mowgli is plain despicable.
Narm: The overly on-the-nose and out of place Actor Allusion of King Louie being summoned with a cowbell. And his performance of "I Wanna Be Like You," due to being one of the only non-diegetic musical numbers in the film, and one that comes right the hell out of nowhere on top of that.
Mowgli's battle cry when he prepares to take on Shere Khan ends up sounding more adorable than fearsome.
All the animals shouting the wolf pack's law of the jungle mantra in unison as they stand up to Shere Khan might come across as silly in another movie, but in this one, it's an epic stand up and cheer moment.
Some moviegoers found the Actor Allusion of Christopher Walken's character getting summoned by a cowbell funny and clever.
There's also the fact that, for this movie's version of "I Wanna Be Like You", the song writers were able to work Gigantopithecus into the lyrics. Twice!
The way Kaa introduces herself to Mowgli would be so ridiculously overblown as to be laughable if it were said by any other character. When Kaa says it, however, it at least makes some sense, even if it does still feel a little silly.
Mowgli: (warily) Who are you? Kaa: (EXTREMELY seductively) Kaaaaaaaaaa...
Nightmare Retardant: For some, being voiced by Christopher Walken—complete with his trademark speaking style, and many of his famous mannerisms—makes King Louie considerably less scary. Many viewers found him to be the scariest part of the film until he opened his mouth.
Seemingly invoked with Kaa's lair, which is filled with trees covered in coiling vines. These vines are decidedly snakelike in shape, which gives the impression that Kaa could be anywhere, hidden among the vines and branches, waiting to strike at any moment. Additionally, Kaa knows way more about Mowgli than it appears she should.
Through the film, random monkeys can be seen looking at Mowgli from the treetops. No doubt these are part of Louie's underlings, which implies that, whenever he wishes it, he can send any of his monkey cronies to spy on someone who has caught his attention. Suddenly, his "my ears got ears" line is a lot creepier.
Squick: When King Louie stands up to chase after Mowgli after he escapes, you can see fur stuck to the rocks where he was sitting.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Largely averted. Many fans actually complimented the changes to be expected, but there are a few things that didn't happen the same way in the original and the novel:
In the 1967 movie, Mowgli was found as an infant, whereas here he's at least a toddler when Bagheera first finds him. In the book, he was also a toddler who wandered into the lair of the wolves, rather than found by Bagheera.
Kaa is of course female, as voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Not everyone was on board with this. The original film kept the character as male and had him voiced by Winnie-The-Pooh veteran Sterling Holloway.
Unlike the 1967 movie, but similarly to the original Mowgli stories, Akela dies. However, the circumstances of his death are very different from the book: he is killed by Shere Khan here, whereas in "The Second Jungle Book" he's killed in a fight with a pack of dholes long after Shere Khan died. At the time of his death Akela had lived so long that he would have been cast out of the pack to starve if Mowgli weren't doing his hunting for him.
As noted above, like in the 1967 film, Mowgli does go to live in the Man Village, while here he stays in the jungle. This actually matches the ending of the first batch of Mowgli stories in "The Jungle Book" where Mowgli ultimately returned to the jungle, he would not fully return to man until the final Mowgli story of "The Second Jungle Book."
Many were upset by how the friendly Beatle-expy vultures from the original only appeared in non-speaking roles as vultures that followed Shere Khan.
Scarlett Johansson's Kaa only has one scene (unlike Holloway's version in the 1967 film, which appeared twice after a test screening convinced Walt to order a second scene created, plus he had the full Villain Song), and most of it consists of exposition. She never has any interaction with Khan or Bagheera unlike the Holloway character (although the 1967 Holloway Kaa never met Baloo). Additionally, given that the 2016 film includes elements of the book that were left out of the 1967 film, they missed a perfect opportunity to portray Kaa as an Anti-Hero who assists Baloo and Bagheera in rescuing Mowgli from the Bandar Log.
Colonel Hathi and the Dawn Patrol do have multiple scenes, but unlike most of the animals, none of the elephants speak English.
Again, the vultures being relegated to non-speaking roles as followers of Shere Khan.
Some found King Louie to be a more interesting villain than Shere Khan, with his large and intimidating size, his motivation to master fire (which would have made him a good Shadow Archetype to Mowgli), and his monkey henchmen who act as spies throughout the jungle. These viewers think he should've had a more important role; possibly forming a Big Bad Ensemble with Shere Khan.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Louie and Kaa being relegated to minor roles; in particular, neither having a role in the climax. Some believe involving both characters in the finale would have led to an interesting climax.
Too Cool to Live: Akela. A noble and just leader of the wolves who Mowgli considers his real father, brutally murdered by Shere Khan.
Averted. Favreau claims to have avoided using too much motion capture technology in order to avoid the animals falling into this. See Visual Effects of Awesome below.
Kaa plays this somewhat straighter, though that's more understandable because she's the only one who isn't a mammal, so naturally seeing a realistic snake "talking" is going to be rather strange looking. This might have been intentional, too, as she's meant to look somewhat scary.
Louie is shown to have Christopher Walken's eyes, which some might find a little unnerving.
Sometimes, Baloo's face tends to look a little too much like Bill Murray.
Visual Effects of Awesome: This film won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for a reason. The entire film is one of the most beautiful cinematic spectacles to be created in years. The computer-generated material is so realistic that you'd never know it from looking at the film. The jungle and animals are every bit as stunning as you'd want them to be, and the animation is done skilfully enough that the animals' speech doesn't even descend into the Uncanny Valley.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: With all the jump scares, frightening scenes, and violence, some people have considered the film deserved a PG-13 rating rather than the PG rating it received.
Initially the announcement of Scarlett Johansson as Kaa was treated as this. However the teaser certainly changed this and it's considered one of the best performances in the film.
Whilst not as vocal as the above, the casting of Bill Murray as Baloo riled some people up. However, these were the minority and, after the finished movie was released, the hate has largely subsided.
When Christopher Walken was announced as voicing King Louie, many of the fandom stated that they felt Walken's voice was inappropriate for the character. This has gone through a resurgence after the teaser was released, with people saying that Walken's voice seems a bizarre choice for such a massive creature.
Idris Elba being cast as Shere Khan received some criticism, with many saying his voice would be more suited to Bagheera. However, with the release of the film, Elba's performance is often considered one of the film's highlights.
After a longlistofdisappointments from Disney's live-action division, the acclaim the trailer has received indicates that remaking one of their best-loved classics was a smart move on Disney's part (it helps that their remake of Cinderella was more positively received, showing that Disney really can feasibly pull off remaking their older movies).
The announcement that the animals would actually talk in this version, unlike other live action versions, was certainly a crowd-pleaser.
And that Mowgli, for the first time in 70 years, would be played by someone of actual Indian descent (well, Indian-American, but still...), avoiding a repeat of the controversy that dogged Johnny Depp as Tonto in The Lone Ranger.
While the exact nature of his inclusion is a bit divisive (as seen above), the fact that King Louie is being featured at all won some fans over considering Disney's long-standing embargo on the character (this was forced on Disney after Jim Cummings's take on the character in Talespin earned the Mouse House a backlash from original voice Louis Prima's widow).
Fans of the '67 film worried that the film would abandon the upbeat tone of the original film in favor of the Darker and Edgier route of the Kipling stories. And as well as the first trailer was received, many complained it was trying to be too overly "epic" and dark like The Dark Knight. The second trailer addresses this complaint, showing the comedic side of the film, and is overall far more upbeat, complete with an epic rendition of "The Bare Necessities" towards the end, and showing that Adaptational Badass Baloo and Louie (who also appears to have Adaptational Villainy) will still have a comedic, light-hearted side to them.