2016 is looking like a truly enormous year in film. There are superhero adventures, major sequels, big new literary adaptations, and numerous projects from major directors. And one result of all this is that there are also some interesting sounding films getting lost in the crowd. Once such film is Disney’s upcoming live action version of The Jungle Book, to be directed by Jon Favreau.
Originally a novel by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book has become a thoroughly beloved bit of American fiction, and most would argue we’ve been waiting far too long for a modern adaptation to come out. The only truly relevant live action version of the story was released back in 1994 by Buena Vista Pictures, and the critics gave that film 92% (per Rotten Tomatoes). For a generation of fans, it represented the biggest and most impressive version of a story that’s existed in book form, in animation, and as an ordinary film. In fact, one can even argue that the film spawned our general interest in jungle adventures (though the Indiana Jones films certainly get some credit there as well).
The result is that in the two-plus decades since 1994’s The Jungle Book, jungle wilderness, hidden temples and the like have become fairly popular elements of fictional adventures, even if there haven’t been many films replicating or mimicking the action of The Jungle Book. We’ve actually grown most accustomed to jungle-themed fiction in video games.
A number of major console video game titles come to mind as having employed the mystical, wild quality of jungle settings that for many was first brought to life on screen in The Jungle Book. Call Of Duty: Black Ops has a very well-known jungle level among its multiplayer maps, and both the Uncharted and Far Cry series have made use of similar settings in various titles. Even more recently, GameRant’s look at Rise Of the Tomb Raider, which has since been released, included mention of Lara Croft escaping an avalanche only to end up among jungle ruins. Really, such settings have become more popular than you might think at first.
The idea of the jungle setting and its various, inherent adventures and mysteries has also become popular as a backdrop for games online. The variety of games at Gala Bingo demonstrates this pretty clearly, as a number of the options deal with such themes. Heart of the Jungle involves numerous exotic creatures as well as appearances by Tarzan and Jane, and Prowling Panther almost looks as if it was inspired by Bagheera, the infamous panther character from The Jungle Book.
After years of games and other pieces of fiction that have echoed the adventurous and fascinating nature of the 1994, we’re finally getting a new live action Jungle Book film, and the early word is pretty exciting. The cast alone, which you can view in full at IMDB, lends a lot of potential to the project. Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, and Christopher Walken are all involved (some as voice actors for animals and some as live characters), just to name a few. And the first trailer looked rather sensational.
It’s been a long time coming, but this film will be released next year and could end up being a surprise hit among the dozens of major projects coming out in 2016. You can watch the trailer below.