Mowgli, which has been in development since 2012, cycled through rumored directors, including Harry Potter writer Steve Kloves and Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant), before finally landing on Andy Serkis. It was inspired choice, not only because the Star Wars: The Last Jedi actor (who worked as a second-unit director on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy) knows his monkeys, but also because of the film’s reliance on motion-capture performance.
That’s Serkis as bear Baloo, Christian Bale as panther Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as tiger Shere Khan (now that’s good casting), and Cate Blanchett as snake Kaa, as well as live-action roles for Matthew Rhys, Freida Pinto, and Rohan Chand as Mowgli. This adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s iconic stories is darker, grittier, and bloodier than the Disney remake that came out in 2016, and with fewer songs. In other words, this ain’t your daddy’s Jungle Book.
Here’s the official plot synopsis.
The story follows the upbringing of the human child Mowgli, raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo and a panther named Bagheera, Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own. All but one: the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins.
Mowgli opens on October 18.