From the footage that’s been released, director Jon Favreau’s adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book, which hits theaters in a few weeks, is taking the original story of home, family and belonging to a whole new level. Favreau has stated in the “Legacy Featurette” video included later in this post that, as a huge fan of the original film (based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling), he didn’t want to do a re-telling without a reason behind it. The intent this time around is to utilize today’s technology to provide the story with “photo-real animal animation” that will fully immerse viewers into Mowgli’s world.A big difference that sets the tone for the new film right off the bat is the enhanced presence of Raksha, voice acted by Lupita Nyong’o. Raksha is the female wolf that takes over as a mother-figure to Mowgli, played by Neel Sethi. While the animated version of the story didn’t show very much interaction between the wolf and her newest “cub”, Favreau’s version really hones in on that relationship. You can see and hear the anguish within Raksha in the “Mowgli Leaves the Pack” trailer where Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) tells her that, for his own safety, Mowgli must leave the jungle.
Bill Murray brings the laughs as the voice of Baloo the bear, as you can see in the video entitled “Hibernation”, where Mowgli tries to help Baloo get ready for his own hibernation. Christopher Walken will no doubt entertain as the enigmatic orangutang King Louie, while Ben Kingsley is set to voice the pragmatic, paternal panther Bagheera and Scarlett Johansson lends her vocal talents to a seductive, trickster python named Kaa. Idris Elba rounds out the vocal cast as Shere Khan, the ruthless tiger-king of the jungle.
The Jungle Book will premiere among some heavy box office competition, such as Barbershop: The Next Cut, Everybody Wants Some and Criminal. But this re-told classic hits all the right family feels; proving its target audience to be very different than that of the other films.
The Jungle Book hits theaters April 15th, 2016.