Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book has some amazing CG animals, we’ve seen that already in plenty of trailers. But these clips –which feature extended sequences of dialogue – give us a better impression of how this “live-action” film tackles another problem; making photo-realistic creatures talk.
It’s one thing hiring big name actors like Bill Murray (as Baloo the bear) or Ben Kingsley (as Bagheera the Black Panther) but it’s a different thing making it sound like those voices actually come from the animals and don’t just sound like they’re dubbed-over like some dodgy martial arts movie.
In a normal cartoon (2D or 3D), it’s fine. The creatures are caricatures; there’s a level of suspension of disbelief meaning the animators can take liberties with expression, facial movements and the way the mouths works. A wolf can form an “o” and lift its “eyebrows” if it wants in an animated movie. That’s not the case here, where the “reality” of the creatures is part of the package. The CG animators have manipulated the faces to some extent for expression and to make the mouths match the words but its limited; to have a wolf’s mouth suddenly do much more the open and close would look strange in context.