Brow Beat

An All-Star Jungle Turns Disney Dark in the First Mowgli Trailer

Movies have been exploring the darker side of children’s stories for some time now, and the results are always mixed—you never know if you’re going to end up with a Maleficent or a Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Still, Warner Bros. is taking a crack at this popular angle with Mowgli, a dark exploration of The Jungle Book’s protagonist. The movie, which is directed by Andy Serkis, which released its first trailer today, features a star-studded cast as Mowgli’s animal friends and enemies.

If the trailer is any indication, this Jungle Book interpretation keeps all the CGI of Disney’s “live-action” reboot, but reinvents the celebrated film with edge instead of whimsy. Mowgli (Rohan Chand) first appears in a cage, his origin narrated by the paternalistic panther Bagheera (Christian Bale). The preview soon takes a more adventure/thriller route, as Mowgli tears through the jungle with his animal family, faces down the evil tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), and even takes part in a Holi celebration.

It’s honestly unclear what the exact plot trajectory is here: Does he live solely with animals? Is he reconciling with his human mother, played by Freida Pinto? What’s Mowgli’s main conflict, aside from the fact that a mean tiger and a British snake (Cate Blanchett) don’t like him? The movie doesn’t debut until Oct. 19, so we’ve got a ways—and probably a few more trailers—to go before it all becomes clearer. Still, the film’s setting-appropriate address of Indian culture and all-star cast is absolutely something to look forward to.