Andy Serkis' JUNGLE BOOK: ORIGINS recruits Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and more

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It’s official: the Great Jungle Book Adaptation War has officially begun. On one side we have Disney and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book and on the other we have WB and Andy Serkis’ Jungle Book: Origins, both producing new live-action/animation hybrid adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories. Disney had the opening salvo, announcing their cast and crew a while back, but WB may just have sunk their battleship with their return fire. Okay, so it’s far too early to say it’s sunk, but I was running out of military terminology, okay?

What I was trying to say is that after yesterday’s announcement that Benedict Cumberbatch would be voicing Shere Khan, THR are now reporting that Serkis has assembled the rest of the cast who will be lending their voices to the animals in the film, and it’s quite the group of talented awards winners and fan favourites: Christian Bale (The Dark Knight TrilogyAmerican Psycho), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Lord of the Rings), Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean, About Time), Peter Mullan (Trainspotting, Boy A), Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom) and Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, The World’s End).

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Besides for Cumberbatch’s villainous tiger, we already knew that Bad Words‘ Rohan Chand will be playing Mowgli, the little boy raised in the jungle. It was also previously revealed that Serkis, who makes his full feature film directorial debut on this having mainly done 2nd unit directing work on the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies, will be pulling double duty as the voice of the bear Baloo (he of the “Bear Necessities” fame).

As for the new additions, Bale will get his growl on as the panther Bagheera, Blanchett will voice the hypnotizing snake Kaa, Hollander is the jackal Tabaqui, Mullan will be Akele, leader of the wolf pack that raises Mowgli, while Harris is the she-wolf Nisha, and Marsan is her mate Vihaan.

That is a damn good voice cast for the animal roles, a cast that definitely stands up to the one being sported by Disney’s Jungle Book which boasts Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Bill Murray as Baloo, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Lupita Nyong’o as Mowgli’s wolf-mother Raksha, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Christopher Walken as King Louie and Giancarlo Esposito as Akela. With Batman vs Ghandi, Gollum vs Peter Venkman, Sherlock Holmes vs Stacker Pendercost, Black Widow vs Whatever Cool Role Cate Blanchett Has Played That You Care To Pick and more, it will be interesting to see which movie audiences respond to best.

The addition of “best” at the end of that sentence is an important distinction, as we already know which one they will respond to first as Disney’s effort swings into cinemas on October 9, 2015, while this version from WB and Serkis only lands nearly a year later on October 16, 2016. That delay may just make all the difference in the end.

Last Updated: August 22, 2014

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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