T he trailer of the live-action remake of The Jungle Book is out and it’s bare wild. I say that in a literal sense; there is a jungle and a barechested, feral boy. Not to mention the utter disparity this CGI epic appears to have with the 1967 cutesy cartoon original. If you only ever use the phrase ‘bare wild’ once in your life, you can use it to describe this ﬁlm.
Due for release in 2016, Disney has managed to assemble an array of superior voice boxes. When Scarlett Johansson played a ﬂirtatious operating system in Her, the world sat up and listened. Now, those same tempting tones will be sure to enrapture many, but mainly Mowgli, as she voices the seductive serpent Kaa. Other stars studding the cast include Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Groundhog Day’s Bill Murray as Baloo and screen veteran Christopher Walken as King Louie. You wouldn’t blame little Neel Sethi, the adorable real-life Mowgli, for wanting to be like them.
If the trailer is anything to go by (and I guess that’s pretty much the point of it), the special eﬀects look astonishing. This isn’t just a feral boy wandering around a forest, this is no Into The Woods; there are colossal waterfalls, violent tiger ﬁghts and rapid monkeyback rides. The calming clarinet undertones of the original soundtrack are no more; the drums are aggressive and Pirates of the Caribbean-esque. Luckily John Debney’s composition and Jon Favreau’s direction is a tried and tested success formula. The Jungle Book will be their fourth collaboration, with previous work including the inimitable Elf and the fairly epic Iron Man 2.
It seems that cartoons are being cast aside as Disney relentlessly drives the live-action bandwagon. 2015’s Cinderella, despite its monotonous vapidity, managed to gross over $500 million at the box office worldwide, whilst the sass-packed Mulan is currently in post-production. Meanwhile, Warner Bros’ are clinging onto the wagon too: Beauty and the Beast is set for release in 2017 and with Emma Watson as Belle it’s bound to draw in billions of Gryﬃndorks and Huﬄepenises. What’s more, 2017 will also see WB’s very own version of Mowgli and pals. Their ﬁlm Jungle Book: Origins already has a slightly edgier vibe, thanks largely to the titular colon but also because the RSC’s Hamlet will now enact Mowgli’s nemesis. That’s right Cumberbitches, Benedict
will be the tiger you always knew he was.
How the two compare remains to be seen but, I suppose the real question is, do we really need two Jungle Books within two years? Probably not, but hey, we live in a world of relentless capitalistic excess and when there are this many sexy people involved, who could say no? When Rudyard Kipling wrote the Mowgli stories I doubt he expected to attract the attention of the world’s biggest multinational mass media conglomerates not once, not twice, but THRICE. Well done, Mr Kipling, ooh ooh ooh, I wanna be like you-ooh-ooh.