In January, I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at Disney's upcoming adaptation of The Jungle Book, and see what director Jon Favreau and visual effects supervisor Robert Legato had created. Being shown all the test footage and little snippets of certain characters, I was blown away by the VFX and how real the world of The Jungle Book is. Check out these three reasons why you should see Favreau's work on the big screen:
1. It's A Disney Adaptation With A Twist
You guys remember how Cinderella (2015) was the same story but with a slight twist? Well, during the screening of The Jungle Book, Favreau explained how he had a vision to bring forth some aspects of Rudyard Kipling's original story, yet keep some of the Disney aspects of the animated version:
"We embrace the mythic qualities of Kipling in the more intense, tonal aspects of the film, but we left room for what we remember from the '67 film and sought to maintain those charming Disney-esque aspects."
Favreau and his team did not want to recreate the animated film frame for frame or completely return to Kipling's story. Rather, the top priority of this adaptation was finding the right tone, drawing inspiration from both Kipling's captivating details while staying loyal to the animated characters. And what could be better than picking and choosing the best of both worlds?
2. All-Star Cast Playing Classic And Beloved Characters
With an adaptation of such a cherished story, The Jungle Book needed a stellar cast to bring to life the time-honored characters. But who was to play the ever-so-mischievous man-cub? There was a worldwide search to find a boy to play Mowgli, and out of thousands of candidates, newcomer Neel Sethi was chosen.
Aside from Sethi, Disney selected a host of Oscar winners to flesh out the cast, including Ben Kingsley (Gandhi), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years A Slave) and Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter). Adding to the list, we'll be hearing the voice talents of Idris Elba (Luther), Bill Murray (Lost In Translation), Scarlett Johansson (Avengers: Age Of Ultron) and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad).
3. 'The Jungle Book' Comes To Life
Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, Favreau and Legato breathed new life into the world in which Kipling's short stories were set. They wanted to immerse the audience in the terrain that Walt Disney dreamed of by using the talent behind such cinematic gems as Gravity, Life Of Pi and Avatar. Legato joined the project early on with a VFX pipeline of movie magic, allowing Favreau to push the limits of filmmaking.
Both Legato and Favreau wanted the world of The Jungle Book to be teeming with life, and to achieve that requires the best motion-capture techniques, photo-real animation processes and live-action filming. With all three of those capabilities combined, they created a realistic and organic microcosm for the audience.
With the filmmakers' ambition to create a true living world, the creatures had to be realistic and not so cartoony. Legato's VFX team conducted extensive research into the movement of animals and the way sunlight hits them, then using cutting-edge CGI, they were able to capture the animals' essence. And did I fail to mention that they even mimicked Walken's own movements and gestures for his character King Louie?
With everything being CGI, of course there was concern that The Jungle Book wouldn't look real or organic. But Favreau and co. ironed out the kinks as they created their digital jungle, exaggerating and enhancing certain elements to make this film fun for the audience; immersing them in an exotic land where they can walk, live and experience the dangers and beauty of Mowgli's home.
And with that, The Jungle Book has become the remake I've been excited for since news broke that Disney wanted to reimagine this film. Witnessing the painstaking effort Favreau and his team put into making this movie and being able to see another dimension of The Jungle Book, I can list many more reasons why I am so excited to see its released. But I'll keep it at this for now. Aside from the all-star cast (not to mention Bill Murray singing), I can't wait to see the finished product, 3D glasses perched on the end of my snout.