Andy Serkis puts a fresh spin on The Jungle Book in the first trailer for his motion-capture film, Mowgli. Serkis has been working on the project for over four years, during which time Disney released director Jon Favreau's own Jungle Book movie with photo-real CGI animals. Serkis, however, has long maintained that Mowgli hews closer to the dark fairy tale tone of Rudyard Kipling's source material than the Mouse House's relatively whimsical and kid friendly rendition. Mowgli's now-official PG-13 rating is a testament to just that.
Mowgli re-tells the famous story of its namesake (Rohan Chand), a human boy raised in the jungles of India by a wolf pack and hunted by the man-hating tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch). Serkis' film, which was written by Callie Kloves, further features an all-star cast that includes Serkis and Christian Bale as Mowgli's mentors Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther, as well as Cate Blanchett as Kaa the snake and Naomie Harris as Mowgli's wolf mom Nisha. Unlike the actors in Favreau's Jungle Book, the stars of Mowgli brought their animal characters to life via mo-cap performance, in addition to voicing them.
Those who attended CinemaCon back in April got a taste of what to expect when Warner Bros. showed them Mowgli footage during the studio's film presentation. A theatrical trailer for the movie has now been released online for everyone else to check out. Take a look in the space above, then check out the first Mowgli poster below.
The Mowgli trailer wastes no time establishing that this is a less kid-friendly take on The Jungle Book, with title cards that even refer to the film as the "darkest telling" of the story yet. While the CGI animals and jungle settings in the trailer are certainly reminiscent of Favreau's Jungle Book, the color scheme and general atmosphere is far more threatening and ominous by comparison. Even the villainous Shere Khan is looking rougher around the edges than usual here, between his damaged front right paw, the large scars on his legs, and Cumberbatch doing a variation on the voice he used for Smaug the dragon in The Hobbit trilogy. As a result, the vengeful tiger look more threatening and blood-thirsty than ever.
Serkis and Kloves are similarly approaching Mowgli's story from a different angle than Favreau's Jungle Book did. The Mowgli trailer suggests the film will delve deeper into the titular character's sense of identity by having him live with other humans (something that didn't happen during Favreau's movie), forcing him to decide which world - that of man or animal - he truly belongs to. It remains to be seen if that's difference enough to justify the release of two live-action/CGI Jungle Book movies in as many years, but if nothing else it suggests Mowgli may be a worthy re-telling on its own terms.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures