IT’S ALWAYS ANXIETY-INDUCING when someone reboots one of the classics. And with Jungle Book, anyone who tackles it is not only trying to give a fresh take on the 1967 Disney animated feature, they’re also charged with doing justice to the Rudyard Kipling book as well. There are currently two Jungle Book adaptations in the works, and the trailer for Disney’s partially-live-action version just dropped and it looks gorgeous. (The other one is a performance-capture adaptation being made for Warner Bros. by Andy Serkis.)
This Jungle Book, which hits theaters next April, is being directed by Jon Favreau and stars newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli (keep your eye on this kid). It also has the impeccable casting of Bill Murray as the voice of Baloo, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha, and Christoper Walken as King Louie. Sadly, you won’t hear any of them in this trailer (though many of them did pop up in the footage Disney showed at the D23 Expo and they’re as awesome as you imagine), but who we do get a lot of here is Scarlett Johansson, who is killing it as Kaa. Honestly, it’ll give you chills.
During D23 Favreau acknowledged the huge task he has taken on in adapting The Jungle Book and noted that it’s the technical advancements in filmmaking over the last five decades that are making it possible for him to do something new with the story. It’s about “finding the balance between the iconic, mythic power of the Kipling and all of the images I loved growing up with from the animated feature, it was how do you combine those things?” he said. “And, most importantly, how do you use today’s technology to take it to a different place than the film that already exists? How do you build upon that legacy?”
Sounds ambitious. But hey, it worked when he made Iron Man.
Pause at: Literally every second. It’s gorgeous and breath-holdingly exciting.
Song: A faint whistled version of “The Bare Necessities”
Essential Quote: “What are you doing so deep in the jungle? Don’t you know what you are?”—Kaa (Johansson)