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JUNGLE BOOK: ORIGINS (2016): Benedict Cumberbatch voicing Shere Khan

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch cast in Jungle Book Origins. If you’re like me (and you aren’t because you’re not currently listening to Randy Newman thinking, ‘Gosh, he should score a film adaption of pretty much any/every Mark Twain story.’), then you agree that one of the standout features of Peter Jackson‘s The Desolation of Smaug has been Benedict Cumberbatch‘s take on the titular dragon. I can’t claim to have seen any of Sherlock, but hearing Mr. Cumberbatch wrap his formidable vocal cords into the crevices and roars of Tolkien’s slightly unhinged dragon has been a joy: if iamfireiamdeath means nothing to you, stop reading this prose and find that film. And if it does mean something to you, this should mean some more more:

Benedict Cumberbatch is voicing Shere Khan in 2016’s Jungle Book. And that’s the coolest thing you’ll hear today.

A little confusion clouding up after the initial excitement is natural, so here’s the little history you need to know: Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book in 1894, which was gamely staged in the resplendent 1942 Korda production and then sapped of much of its inherent darkness in the 1966 Disney production which managed, nonetheless and very much for the better, to introduce “The Bare Necessities” to your every day life. Ever mindful of branding, two more Jungle Book films are coming down the pipeline, with Jon Favreau directing the Disney-produced The Jungle Book (set for release in 2015) and Andy Serkis getting his directorial debut in Warner Bros. 2016 release, Jungle Book.

Also, there was TaleSpin, which is practically the most important.

The announcement of Cumberbatch’s casting is the first such news we’ve heard from the Serkis-helmed motion-capture film, and it’s a good sign for a film already garnering plenty of goodwill. Andy Serkis is someone everyone will tell you was snubbed of an Oscar nomination (for his mo-cap work as Gollum, King Kong, and Caesar the ape) and they’re not entirely wrong. The man has taken a once shaky medium and opened it up into a valid stage for art. That he’s taking his work in the motion-capture frontier into a film of his own direction (Serkis did lots of directorial work on The Desolation of Smaug‘s second unit) is exciting news indeed.

The Favreau film, which has maybe unfairly, maybe accurately pegged as the “less-dark” and “less-serious” (what does that even mean, I wonder) will see its Shere Khan under the command of Idris Elba. Now imagine a world where Elba and Cumberbatch get to duke it out, tiger-style. Bet you want to pick up The Jungle Book again.

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Frank Falisi

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