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(Photo: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images for Jaeger-LeCoultre)

The first trailer for Andy Serkis‘s take on The Jungle Book has been released, giving us our first glimpse at Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan.

The villainous Bengal tiger was voiced by George Sanders and then Idris Elba in Disney’s cartoon and live-action films, but Benedict’s version is much closer to the lame tiger who believes he is the rightful king of the jungle described in Rudyard Kipling‘s 1894 book.

The whole film, in fact, sticks close to its source material, resulting in a much darker tale than the one we’re used to. There are no songs and, disappointingly, no King Louie (the “King of the Swingers” and “jungle VIP” was a Disney addition, as Serkis explains in this featurette.)

The cast of characters is familiar, though. Christian Bale plays black panther Bagheera, Cate Blanchett is the python Kaa, while Naomie Harris plays Nisha, the female wolf who adopts baby Mowgli. Slumdog Millionaire‘s Freida Pinto and The Americans‘ Matthew Rhys are among the live-action human cast.

Keep your eyes peeled for them all (and in particular Shere Khan, who makes his appearance at one minute in:)

This version of The Jungle Book has been in the works for a number of years, long before Jon Favreau made the 2016 live-action movie of Disney’s 1967 cartoon.

Like that film, the actors’ performances were captured using a technique — motion capture suits — director Andy Serkis is particularly well acquainted with. They were used to create his character Gollum in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, not to mention the dragon Smaug played by — guess who? — Benedict, then King Kong in Peter Jackson‘s epic remake, Caesar in Planet of the Apes, and Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars. In fact, actor-cum-director Andy dons a high-tech suit himself to play Baloo, the wise, sleepy brown bear and teacher of wolf cubs (just don’t expect him to break into “The Bare Necessities.”)

Unlike that film, however, this one focusses on the origins of “man-cub” Mowgli, as this poster for the film released yesterday (May 21) made clear.

(Image: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Do you have room in your life for another Jungle Book movie?

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.