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First ‘Jungle Book’ trailer brings talking (and whistling) animals to life

Watch the trailer for “The Jungle Book”

If you’ve been wondering just how director Jon Favreau will turn Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” into a photo-realistic film complete with talking animals, now’s your chance to see. The first trailer has been released and, sure enough, there are a few talking (and even whistling) animals.

The movie, loosely based on the Kipling book but probably more influenced by the Disney animated movie from 1967, has a huge, uncanny valley to hurdle. Favreau spoke to The Times about how he would be creating a photo-realistic look without creeping out the audience. Now that the first glimpse is here we can only ask, do you believe?

One thing that pulled on the nostalgia vine from Disney movies past was the hissing snake voiced by actress Scarlett Johansson. The large creature coos to main character Mowgli (played by actor Neel Sethi), “Trust in me.” She’s re-creating the lyrics of Kaa the snake’s song from the original Disney film. Kaa was voiced by Sterling Holloway in the 1967 version. (Holloway was also known as the voice of Winnie the Pooh).

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Also seen in the trailer is a giant bear, presumably Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray); a panther, most likely Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and a giant ape, possibly King Louie (Christopher Walken). King Louie looks huge, like King Kong-size, which is interesting.

The new “Jungle Book” feels like a mixture of reverent nods, new twists and stunning scenery, but this film may well live or die based on the last scene in the trailer, in which Mowgli is riding on the belly of Baloo down a river. Can the audience suspend disbelief enough to embrace the photo-realistic image of a small child in the arms of a whistling bear? It may be crazy enough to work.

“The Jungle Book” is scheduled to hit theaters in 2016.

Twitter: @MdellW

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