Andy Serkis is perhaps best known for his amazing motion-capture work in the Lord Of The Rings and rebooted Planet Of The Apes film series than anything else in his entire career. But now the master of creating characters like Gollum and Caesar takes a turn behind the camera for Mowgli. While the Serkis had previously done double-duty as actor and second-unit director for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, he’s making his feature directorial debut with Mowgli, a darker adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. The film had which been delayed to work on the technology and presentation, as well as to get some distance from Disney’s recent live-action adaptation.
Now, for the first time, we are getting a look at the trailer for Mowgli, along with a brief insight into the film from Serkis himself. Check out the first trailer as well as the featurette here below.
Unlike the Disney interpretations, which had some memorable song and dance numbers, Mowgli looks like it will stay true to the spirit of the original source material. One thing is for sure, this is a darker take on the Jungle Book. But like Jon Favreau‘s 2016 live-action adaptation, Mowgli touts an all-star cast. Here we have Christian Bale as Bagheera the panther, Serkis as Baloo the Bear, Cate Blanchett as Kaa the snake, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan the tiger, Naomie Harris as Nisha the female wolf. Rohan Chand will play the title character. Other supporting actors include Matthew Rhys, Freida Pinto, Peter Mullan, Jack Reynor, Eddie Marsan, and Tom Hollander.
In the featurette, we overhear that Serkis wanted to engage audiences by getting closer to the tone of the book. Steering away from the fairy tale aspect about a boy living amongst animals, Serkis says his film is grounded in reality. So there are real consequences.
Serkis also praised his fellow cast. “There’s a phenomenal warmth to him,” said Serkis of Bale. Indeed, Bageera’s relationship with Mowgli is the crux of the story. Serkis says Shere Kahn isn’t just a black and white villain, but a damaged individual. But for Serkis, he wanted to play Baloo, who he compares to a drill sergeant. Certainly not the carefree singing bear that we know from those Disney versions.
One of the main themes the film will explore is Mowgli’s place in this world, amongst man and animals. SO it is a quest and a search for his identity.
While darker takes of a fan favorite does come with the territory, it may be a bit too soon to see another Jungle Book. Which is why WB changed the date in the first place. But who knows, maybe this film can do well enough because of its dark tone. We’ll just have to wait and see.