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You probably know that Disney is in the midst of knocking out live action versions of their back catalog of animated films. Following the success of movies like Maleficent and Cinderella, we’re going to get new versions of Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, and many others. One of these projects, The Jungle Book, just dropped a first look teaser trailer, and while it is definitely different from the source material, what we see here is epic and tense.
There’s not a ton to this trailer, but the footage from the Jon Favreau (Iron Man) directed film certainly gives you a good sense of the adventure audiences will go on when the film drops next year. Tonally, this definitely focuses on the harrowing danger that the young protagonist faces as he navigates the myriad hazards of living on his own in the jungle. There are, however, nice nods to the source material, most notably that bit at the end that shows Mowgli riding down the river on the belly of a bear.
Based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book of the same name, Disney’s original animated The Jungle Book (there was a live action version in the 1940s) tells the story of Mowgli, a young orphan boy on his own in the jungle who is taken in and raised by the creatures who inhabit the wilderness. Along with his friends Baloo, the bear, Bagheera, the black panther, and a pack of wolves, he must survive the wilds, including the villainous man-eating Bengal Tiger, Shere Khan.
This version appears to follow at least a very similar story arc with Mowgli (Neel Sethi) and friends, though it sure looks like it is going to have way more of a focus on epic action. And Favreau and company have put together a fantastic cast to bring the animals to life. The only one we really encounter here, however, is Scarlett Johansson as the python Kaa, though with that deep, sultry voice, she’s a damn near perfect choice.
Though we don’t really hear them, the rest of the cast is also seems like they are spot on selections. Bill Murray voices Baloo, Ben Kingsley lends his vocal talents to Bagheera, Lupita Nyong’o voices Raksha, Giancarlo Esposito is Akela, and Christopher Walken is the leader of the orangutans, King Louie, which should be a total blast. Perhaps best of all, Idris Elba voices Shere Khan, and I can’t think of an actor better suited to bringing a level of menace to that role.
While this doesn’t really tell us much, it is certainly a promising first look. I wasn’t sure what to make of this, but I have to admit, after watching this, I’m on board. The Jungle Book opens April 15, 2016.