Just days after adding Benedict Cumberbatch to the Jungle Book: Origins cast, the movie has found the rest of its characters. Working alongside Cumberbatch's Shere Khan will be Christian Bale as panther Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as the hypnotic snake Kaa, and director Andy Serkis has signed on to also voice Baloo the bear. The rest of the cast will be rounded out by Tom Hollander playing Shere Khan's jackal minion Tabaqui, while Naomie Harris, Eddie Marsan, and Peter Mullan are voicing members of the wolf pack that raises Mowgli. Mowgli himself is played by Rohan Chand from Bad Words. Mowgli will be the only character that is not animated.
There's something about The Jungle Book that really interests A-list stars. I mean, it's literally Tom Hiddleston's favorite movie. In fact, it's so popular that it's getting two adaptations. Warner Bros. is tackling the Jungle Book: Origins spin off, while Disney is doing a CGI remake. Both films are stacked with star-studded casts and are debuting within a year of each other. With such similar backgrounds and casts, it can be hard to determine which one is going to be better. Let's break down what we know so I can analyze the two movies and try to predict which one is more worth your while.
Disney's Adaptation - Basically a redo of the 1967 version because Disney somehow thinks it can top that.
Warner Bros.' Adaptation - Jungle Book: Origins sounds like it will focus more on Mowgli's growing up in the wolf pack. They're pretty minor characters in the first Disney film, but since three of the wolves have been cast with pretty big-name actors it seems this time around they'll get more screen time.
The Verdict - The Jungle Book is a classic for a reason and in this instance it was smart to do something outside the box like with Jungle Book: Origins. That way there won't be as much comparison to the original as there will be for Disney's new one.
Disney's Adaptation - Jon Favreau has signed on to this film and is probably best known for directing Iron Man and Iron Man 2. He also directed my favorite Christmas movie Elf.
Warner Bros.' Adaptation - Andy Serkis stepped up after the film's original director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu backed out. This will be his first time as a director, but he's learned from the best including Peter Jackson, whom Serkis assistant directed for on The Hobbit trilogy.
The Verdict - Favreau has the experience to possibly pull off a remake, while Serkis has the fresh eyes to execute a unique spin off. Both directors will likely excel within their specific categories.
THE SPECIAL EFFECTS
Disney's Adaptation - The animals will be CG instead of 2D animated, and Mowgli will be a live actor.
Warner Bros' Adaptation - The film's animals will rely on motion capture technology, so when we see Kaa swaying around to hypnotize victims we can remember that Cate Blanchett actually did that while wearing a suit covered in ping pong balls.
The Verdict - Warner Bros. wins because if anyone can do motion capture it's Serkis. He literally was Gollum in Lord of the Rings and that character put motion capture on the map.
Disney's Adaptation - With huge names like Bill Murray playing Baloo, Lupita Nyong'o playing Mowgli's wolf mother, and Scarlett Johansson playing the snake, this is one star studded cast. Murray and Johansson even have previous voice work experience. Murray starred in Fantastic Mr. Fox and Johansson charmed us in Her.
Warner Bros.' Adaptation - Benedict Cumberbatch was a huge score for the film, and everyone knows Cristian Bale knows how to work his voice.
The Verdict - Disney might have the slight leg up because its stars are more well-known and there are more of them. Perhaps Cumberbatch can make up for the fact that not everyone is going to know who Naomie Harris, Eddie Marsan, and Peter Mullan are, but on the whole you can't beat the cast of the Disney version.
Though Disney may have a more memorable voice cast, in the end this is a visual movie. CGI, when done badly, can ruin a movie, so Disney has to contend with that. But we know Serkis has experience in motion capture so his film will probably have more convincing special effects.
Plus, to be honest, Jungle Book: Origins will likely be more interesting because it's new. I want to see Mowgli's growing up, not just a Disney retelling of an already perfect Disney film. Now we all just have to wait until 2016 to see it come to life.