Disney are gearing up to produce a slew of live action adaptations of their classic animated movies, starting with The Jungle Book in April 2016. The first trailer was released for the film a month ago, quickly quelling the people who had misgivings about such a CGI heavy film. Taking a cue from Life of Pi, The Jungle Book's myriad of wild animals are entirely created with special effects and so far, they look pretty stunning. Check out the trailer!
With a star studded cast, The Jungle Book boasts an impressive array of talent: Idris Elba voices Shere Khan, Bill Murray voices Baloo, Ben Kingsley voices Bagheera, and you can hear Scarlett Johansson's silky and menacing Kaa in the trailer's narration. But with Warner Brothers also producing a Jungle Book movie (titled Origins because... we all want to know the characters' backstories?), it's going to be a fierce competition to find out which movie comes out on top.
If nothing else, Disney's The Jungle Book will definitely delight the eyes. The CGI is smooth and realistic, blending Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi, the protagonist is not CGI generated) perfectly with his computer created surroundings. It seems like a darker take on the classic Rudyard Kipling book than the original animated movie, as the very young Mowgli frequently runs for his life in the trailer. The movie won't be a musical, though there will probably be multiple homages to the much loved songs of the animated movie...
This was evidenced by Baloo whistling The Bare Necessities in the trailer, but it's likely that this won't be the only way the songs are emulated: we'll probably hear the familiar refrains worked into the soundtrack.
But while the movie will feature beautiful cinematography and a fantastic soundtrack, there are some fatal pitfalls that may well doom the film...
A Challenging Job
Acting solely against CGI created creatures is a challenge for any actor, as there's no body language to react to and the focus is entirely on the actor themselves. For a child actor, this is unbelievably difficult, and some people have already raised concerns that newcomer Neel Sethi won't be able to carry the entire movie himself. Of course we've got an amazingly talented voice acting cast, but it's highly unlikely they were all on set to work with Sethi, so the young actor's experience of the film will be almost incomparable to the final product.
This is Neel Sethi's first movie, and although he's just 14 years old, director Jon Favreau seems very enthusiastic about the actor's talents.
"Neel has tremendous talent and charisma. There is a lot riding on his little shoulders and I’m confident he can handle it. He has the heart, humor, and daring of the character. He’s warm and accessible, yet also has an intelligence well beyond his years and impressed us all with his ability to hold his own in any situation. Even though he has no professional acting experience, his natural charisma and instincts jumped out at us."
With thousands of hopeful actors auditioning for the role, Sethi must have been quite something to win the part. With any luck he can rise to the challenge!
Overall, the film looks pretty exciting and very beautiful to watch. It's not without its potential problems, but it will probably make for a fun trip to the movies, even if it's not especially new or groundbreaking.