Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Dark Book: Andy Serkis Talks About His 'Jungle Book'


Long before Disney's new Jungle Book hit theaters and took critics and audiences by storm, Warner Bros. announced that they were making their own film based on the classic books...

Whereas Disney's film is a PG-rated re-imagining of the story with many elements from Walt Disney's 1967 animated adaptation, WB/director Andy Serkis' version will be a brand new take on the story, one that will aim for a PG-13 rating and will be "darker".

He says...

"Ours is for a slightly older audience. It's a PG-13, more a kind of Apes movie, a slightly darker take, closer to Rudyard Kipling's."

Warner Bros. has to watch out, because their Jungle Book - if it is less than stellar or doesn't look good from the trailers - could have a hard time. Disney seemingly put together an old-fashioned family adventure with enough edge to get those who shun family films into the theater. It has cruised past $300 million domestically and $800 million worldwide, and a sequel is already in development. It could come as early as fall 2018, when WB is launching their Jungle Book. They have to get audiences to say yes to their version of chocolate cake, convince them that it is different from the chocolate cake audiences had this year. If that analogy makes any sense...

I'm happy that WB is making theirs different, and will continue to keep it that way. Hopefully it's a truly mature kind of movie, and not the needlessly "grimdark" kind of dark that thinks it's mature just by being shocking and/or dour. I actually kind of anticipate it because it's a new take on the story, Disney's didn't really appeal to me because it was using elements from the Walt film rather than being - through and through - its own thing, and some personal reasons regarding these CG'ed/live-action remakes of their animated classics. Warner Bros.' take is going to be a country mile from it, plus the cast sounds great, and Serkis knows mo-cap (regardless of what he might've said about how important the animators are in the process). The CG should be just as impressive as the CG was in the Disney film.

Serkis went on to talk about family films, and how he feels that they are being "too protective" these days...

"It’s great to scare kids in a safe environment because it’s an important part of development, and we all loved to be scared as kids, so we shouldn’t overly protect them. Kids are so sophisticated and that is why our Jungle Book is quite dark... It’s a story of an outsider, someone who is trying to accept the laws and customs of a particular way of living and then has to adapt to another culture, a human culture, which of course he should be able to adapt to, because this is what he is. So it’s about two different species and their laws and customs, and neither are entirely right."

Well, I agree with Mr. Serkis here...

The other day, I wrote a post on Tumblr (yes, I'm actually part of that cesspool) about earlier Disney films and how I felt they had more bite and darkness than many of the modern Disney animated films. The same applies to all kinds of family movies, I think there's nothing wrong with putting a little jolt of scares in a movie that a ton of 4-8-year-olds might go and see. Some PG-13 films tend to get the family audiences in, from the Marvel films to the Transformers movies, regardless of how appropriate they are for the individual kids seeing them.

Jon Favreau's Jungle Book had some moments that terrified kids, and I've heard various reports of it being a PG film that actually earns its PG, so I guess Serkis wasn't quite impressed with what he saw and feels that the young audience should see something that's a little harsher. Maybe something akin to an 80s family film or something. One of those hard pre-PG-13 PG films.

Anyways, I feel what he is saying also applies to current feature animation. Outside of LAIKA and a few other films, I think there needs to be a little more bite. Disney Animation, Pixar, and DreamWorks I think use some bite and I admire that, though I think they could go a little further. The other studios? They really don't. Illumination has yet to make a scarier animated film, ditto Blue Sky and Sony Animation. However, that scary and harsh stuff should only be there if the story calls for it.

Hopefully Andy Serkis' Jungle Book is a good one, whatever they end up calling it - they threw the dull Jungle Book: Origins working title out the window, and that it can hold its own against the recent Disney adaptation.

What say you?

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