Walt Disney Pictures and Iron Man director Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book - the upcoming live-action/CGI retelling of Disney's 1967 animated movie (based on Rudyard Kipling's novel) of the same name - has already begun to generate positive buzz, following the debut of its first domestic theatrical trailer. The footage unveiled thus far has earned praise for its photo-realistic, yet digitally rendered, Indian jungle scenery and its non-human players alike; those characters, in turn, are the handiwork of the animators of Weta Digital (The Hobbit trilogy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).
Jungle Book also boasts a celebrity cast that will be lending their voices to the various animals in the film, though so far general moviegoing audiences have only gotten to hear Scarlett Johansson put her spin on the slithery snake known as Kaa. That remains the case with the newly-released international trailer (see above), where Johansson's voiceover has been swapped out too; on the other hand, this new preview compensates for that by including additional shots of the various creatures that man-cub Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi) encounters on his adventure in Favreau's retelling.
The international Jungle Book trailer blends material from its U.S. counterpart with previously-unseen footage, including a look at Mowgli's adopted wolf mom Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o), as well as additional shots of Baloo the bear (Bill Murray), Bagheera the panther (Ben Kingsley), and the marching elephant herd that Mowgli crosses paths with on his journey through the jungles of India. On the whole, though, this new preview aligns with the marketing angle for Jungle Book's U.S. trailer - painting Favreau and screenwriter Justin Marks' (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li) take on Kipling's story as being more of an action/adventure than its cartoon predecessor (but still a family-friendly one, all the same).
However, even with a greater emphasis placed on the danger that Mowgli faces as he comes of age in the wild, the new Jungle Book will also carry over some of the musical elements from the 1967 Disney animated movie version; for example, part of "The Bare Necessities" is whistled by Baloo at the end of both trailers released for Favreau's adaptation thus far. Moreover, back in 2014, it was reported that legendary Disney composer/lyricist Richard Sherman - who contributed songs to the 1967 Jungle Book animated film with his late brother, Robert - has penned new songs for this live-action/CGI retelling.
Both Jungle Book and Disney's scheduled 2017 release, the Beauty and the Beast live-action musical - which, much like Jungle Book, will feature new songs as well as some from its animated predecessor - seem to be using a formula similar to the one that Kenneth Branagh relied on while making Cinderella: add enough new material so as to not simply re-create the Disney cartoon that came before (only with real actors and a mix of practical/digital elements), but don't stray too far from the original film overall. Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Maleficent by comparison mixed things up more, both aesthetically and from a narrative perspective.
Moviegoers who would like to see the Mouse House go further with "re-inventing" the studio's classic animated films as modern live-action tentpoles - since it's safe to assume this trend won't stop as long as the box office returns continue to be strong - might find this approach frustrating; others, though, may appreciate that these retellings balance reverence for their predecessors with innovation. Plus, Branagh's Cinderella is far and away the most widely-acclaimed of these Disney "remakes" at this point - and right now, there's reason to believe that Favreau's Jungle Book could earn an equally enthusiastic reception, too.
The Jungle Book opens in U.S. theaters on April 15th, 2016.
Source: Walt Disney Pictures
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