It seemed like only recently we had heard that Disney was planning on making a live action version of their animated version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, but it seems they had been hard at work long before we posted about it, because The Jungle Book presentation impressed us at the D23 Expo this past weekend!
During the live action panel at the Disney convention, from which we got to see a lot of amazing clips and talent on stage, the sizzle reel for The Jungle Book that only us at the panel got to see was probably one that really changed my skepticism about a live action version of their animated classic.
Director Jon Favreau was there to talk a bit about the movie and he brought some others with him.
Sir Ben Kingsley (voices the black jaguar Bagheera), Lupita Nyong’o, who was also there to talk about to other Disney-related films she’s involved in (voices the mother wolf, Raksha), and Neel Sethi (pronounced neel sé-tee) who plays the little lost boy Mowgli, appeared on stage with director Jon Favreau. Here’s Neel’s reaction after watching the sizzle reel.
Here, Ben Kingsley talks about being a part of Disney, and the second video he talks about working with Neel, since they actually did their lines together, which is not common when it comes to voice acting.
Lupita also talked about Neel’s performance in the movie.
As I said, the sizzle reel was really impressive. Not only did we get to see how visually beautiful and amazing the characters are going to be in the film, and yes, the animals do talk, but honestly, it’s far from the earlier versions of animals talking in films, but we get a glimpse at the classic characters we remember from the animated classic. And we get to here them speak, including Baloo the “Bare Necessities” bear, as voiced by the one and only Bill Murray.
Scarlett Johansson voices the python Kaa, who also narrates the sizzle reel. The reels starts with the explanation of “The Red Flower” that brings warmth and light and destruction to the land. You are then introduced to Mowgli as he’s faced with the dangerous Shere Khan, voiced by the richly gifted Idris Elba. Mowgli is then faced with the much nicer black jaguar Bagheera (Kingsley), who explains to the mother wolf Raksha (Nyong’o) that he is no longer safe with them and needs to part from his wolf family to keep them all safe.
This then sets them off in a journey, which we see them get into another dangerous situation with Shere Khan, before we see Mowgli encounter Baloo (Murray) who can’t seem to stop humming, even singing, a familiar tune. We then get a glimpse of the very slithery Kaa (Johansson), a few more clips, and the final scene in which we see the king himself, the unforgettable orangutan King Louis, voiced by the vocally recognizable Christopher Walken. The reel was, of course, well received.
And I have to admit that as much as I love Star Wars and am looking forward to The Force Awakens, I like The Jungle Book poster more than The Force Awakens poster illustrated by Drew Struzan. Both were given to all in attendance at the live action presentation.