Back at the D23 Expo this past August, we got our first glimpse of The Jungle Book, Disney’s live action retelling of the classic 1967 animated fable (based, of course, on the Rudyard Kipling book of the same name). The footage, an uncanny blend of live action photography and cutting edge computer generated imagery, blew us away. It somehow captured the spirit of the animated film while adding new dimensions of intrigue, mystery, and danger. The teaser trailer, which just debuted, is a condensed version of that footage that still gives off the wonderful vibe of familiarity and bold reinvention.
Directed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau, this new Jungle Book features newcomer Neel Sethi, the “man cub” Mowgli who is befriended, mentored, and menaced by various animal inhabitants of a vast African ecosystem. And the voice cast is insane. Bill Murray stars as Baloo (you can even hear him humming the “Bare Necessities” over the end of the spot), Ben Kingsley is kindly panther Bagheera (we spotted Kingsley backstage after the D23 Expo panel and he had nothing but wonderful things to say about his experience), and Lupita Nyong’o is doting wolf mother Raksha. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Idris Elba as Shere Khan (absolutely terrifying in his brief appearance here), Scarlett Johansson as Kaa as Kaa (she narrates much of the trailer) and Christopher Walken as King Louie. You don’t get a lot of King Louie in this trailer, but he was a huge part of the D23 Expo footage and was super intimidating and awesome.
The trailer really gets across the wonderful visual aesthetic that Favreau and his collaborators have conjured for this adaptation. These characters share similar traits with their beloved animated counterparts, but are altogether fiercer and more realistic creations. When The Jungle Book opens on April 15, 2016, it will be familiar … and yet unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.