The Jungle Book worked perfectly as an animated movie. Released in 1967, the Disney classic captured the spirit and imagination of what animation has to offer, giving personalities and human emotion to a motley crew of jungle animals. So hearing that a live-action remake was on the way kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. And after seeing the first trailer for the upcoming remake, I’m not so sure how I feel about it.
On the one hand, director Jon Favreau has created a beautifully dark and moody world for these creatures to roam in. On the other hand, I’m not so sure this will be quite the home run Disney hopes. Granted, I’m judging the film based on one trailer, and the fight between Bagheera and Shere Khan really does look thrilling. But it’s hard to imagine any other version of The Jungle Book other than the 1967 classic.
That said, Disney is certainly going all out to ensure people are drawn to the theater when this hits on April 15, 2016. You have Idris elba as Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha and even Bill Murray as Baloo. I can already picture Murray’s Baloo singing “Bear Necessities,” and we actually get the slightest of teases in the trailer’s closing shot.
I’m cautiously optimistic. Disney has a ton of live-action remakes on the way, so the pressure is on The Jungle Book to make a favorable first impression. If you haven’t seen The Jungle Book yet, I would highly recommend it. If not, the point of next year’s version is obviously to introduce new audiences to The Jungle Book universe.