Disney’s live-action reimagining of The Jungle Book is nothing if not ambitious. With only one human actor in the film, 10 year old Neel Sethi as Mowgli, the rest of the Jon Favreau directed film relies on CG animals and special effects to bring Rudyard Kipling’s tale to life. Previous trailers, TV spots, and posters have certainly made The Jungle Book look impressive, but it remains to be seen whether this version can recapture the magic and fun that the 1967 Disney animated classic gave us.
Certainly this version of The Jungle Book has the opportunity to present closer to Kipling’s original tale, bringing darkness, daring, intrigue and adventure to proceedings – and again, in clips we have seen so far, it appears that The Jungle Book hasn’t been afraid to take a walk on the wild side. It’s likely a lot of people will see this movie out of curiosity, to see how it does compare and contrast against the animated version and of course, to hear the all-star voice cast in action.
Ahead of the film’s April release, Disney have released stunning new images of voice cast members pictured ‘alongside’ the characters they portray in the film, coupled with each actor’s thoughts on the role they are playing. Take a look, below:
Idris Elba is Shere Khan: The Bengal tiger who bears the scars of man and believes Mowgli to be a threat. Shere Kahn is determined to rid the jungle of the man-cub, and will do so by any means possible. “Shere Khan reigns with fear,” says Elba. “He terrorizes everyone he encounters because he comes from a place of fear.”
Lupita Nyong’o is Raksha: The mother wolf who takes Mowgli in when he is abandoned as a baby, and raises him as one of her own. “She is the protector, the eternal mother,” says Nyong’o. “The word Raksha actually means protection in Hindi. I felt really connected to that, wanting to protect a son that isn’t originally hers but one she’s taken for her own.”
Scarlett Johansson is Kaa: The massive python who attempts to hypnotize Mowgli and crush him in her embrace. “Kaa seduces and entraps Mowgli with her storytelling,” says Johansson. “She’s the mirror into Mowgli’s past. The way she moves is very alluring, almost coquettish.”
Christopher Walken is King Louie: The giant, overbearing ape who desperately wants to know the secret of how man makes fire, in order that he can become more like a human. He is laughable yet also dark and terrifying. “King Louie is huge–12 feet tall,” says Christopher Walken, who voices the character. “But he’s as charming as he is intimidating when he wants to be.”
Giancarlo Esposito is Akela: The alpha-male of the wolf pack. He welcomes Mowgi to the family, but fears that he will one day compromise the safety of the pack. “Akela is a fierce patriarch of the wolf pack,” says Giancarlo Esposito. “He believes the strength of the pack lies in what each and every wolf offers. He’s a great leader, a wise teacher.”
Sir Ben Kingsley is Bagheera: The black panther who is sensible and reliable, and helps Mowgli on his journey to the man-village. “Bagheera is Mowgli’s adoptive parent,” says Kingsley, who lends his voice to Bagheera. “His role in Mowgli’s life is to educate, to protect and to guide. My Bagheera was military–he’s probably a colonel. He is instantly recognizable by the way he talks, how he acts and what his ethical code is.”
Reading the actors’ comments about their characters is evidence that a lot of thought has gone into what drives and motivates each animal, and what their relationship to Mowgli is like in Favreau’s version of The Jungle Book. It will certainly be interesting to see if the CG characters, coupled with the actors voices, can make this come across on screen, and how Sethi, in his first major role, can relate to those animals in return.
The Jungle Book opens in U.S. theaters on April 15th, 2016.
Source: Walt Disney Studios