The teaser trailer for Disney’s live-action film The Jungle Book might be the most beautiful trailer I’ve seen all year. Everything about the trailer is just beautiful, from the characters brought to life by CGI, the landscape of the jungle, and especially the voice over from Scarlett Johansson (Kaa) throughout the trailer. The most surprising part about all of this? It was all shot in downtown LA, according to Jon Favreau.
I’ve been waiting since last month to get a real first look at this film. All the buzz coming out this year’s D23 Expo was not about Star Wars or Marvel, it was about The Jungle Book. The footage shown at the event was described as a blend of photorealistic CGI and live-action to create what director Jon Favreau calls “Hybrid”.
Just re-watching the trailer again, you can see what people were buzzing about. Favreau recently said, “The best CGI for me is the kind that is so good it disappears”.
That could not be anymore true after seeing this teaser… Here’s Favreau’s comments w/ Yahoo about the process and how much involved the actors were.
“For a character like [King Louie] all of Walken’s facial expressions are worked in…the further you get away from the human, the less it matters. For Baloo, if you put too much of Bill Murray’s performance completely on [the bear], you start to hit an uncanny valley. But if you watch Baloo on screen, you will see Bill Murray come through.
“But when it comes to a snake, there’s no reason to motion-capture Scarlett Johansson’s performance. If you use her performance to drive a digitally puppeted rig, the human expressions on a reptile start to look weird. It’s not the right effect. We really tried keep the performances within the believability of the animal species.”
Favreau also talked about finding the right balance between fun and serious, mentioning the ’67 animated film and also Rudyard Kipling’s novel.
“People expect action from this adventure. The original film felt so young. And the musical memories we have from that film [don’t] fit tonally with a film that’s photo-real, where there’s real danger and emotional stakes. The storylines and the mythology behind Kipling’s stories are very different from the animated film. Navigating those waters is one of my toughest jobs as the director.”
“To me the iconic image [from the original film] is Mowgli floating on the belly of the bear…And that was a challenge because the physics of it is not easy to do realistically. So we studied a lot of polar bears, buoyancy… to get it right.”
Clearly, I’m amazed by this. Leave it to Disney’s staff and a talented director in Jon Favreau to create something visually captivating from a classic tale. What do you think of the trailer? Did the look of one particular character just surprise you in a good way? Let us know.
The Jungle Book features a voice cast in Bill Murray (Baloo), Idris Elba (Shere Kahn), Giancarlo Esposito (Akela), Lupita Nyong’o (Rakcha), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Scarlett Johannson (Kaa), Tom Hollander (Rakcha’s Mate), and Christopher Walken (King Louie), with Neel Sethi as Mowgli.
The film releases in theaters on April 15, 2016.