15/03/2016 8:07 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

4 Upcoming Film Adaptations Of Childhood Classics To Hit The Screen In 2016


In my first blog for the Huffington Post, I discussed fairytales as zeitgeist as well as the postmodern darkness associated with newer adaptations. I'd also said that the release of the upcoming The Jungle Book would give us more insight into this cultural phenomenon. But it's not the only film out in 2016 with links to fairytales, animated classics, Disney and children's books. Here's a look at the most eagerly awaited ones.

The Jungle Book

One needs no introduction to the adventures of Mowgli, the "man cub" who is raised in the jungle by wolves. Immortalised by the 1967 Disney adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, it is a tale well-known and well-loved. There have been previous live-action adaptations too, but what sets apart the latest attempt is the technological innovations available to its creators as well as the subsequent creative vision. Produced by Walt Disney Productions, this live-action, CGI animation and motion capture blend is directed and produced by Jon Favreau, written by Justin Marks, with cinematography by Bill Pope. Most of the story (and portrayal of characters) is inspired by the Disney version, but it does incorporate some new elements from the book and has aimed to "push the limits of the new technology to create a whole world that transports us". Going by the trailer, that is exactly what is being promised!

The Indian release date (8 April, 2016) of The Jungle Book is a whole week before the rest of the world.

The young Neel Sethi will make his debut as Mowgli, while big names voice the rest of the beloved characters - Bill Murray as Baloo, Sir Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Christopher Walken as King Louie, Lupita Nyong'o as Mowgli's wolf mother, Raksha, among others. It looks like we might finally have a worthy live companion to the animated classic. And what's more, the Indian release date (8 April, 2016) is a whole week before the rest of the world.

The Huntsman: Winter's War

Following close on the heels of The Jungle Book is a prequel/sequel to 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman. A darker adaptation from the original Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Snow White, its premise was ultimately far more intriguing than the treatment of the same in the actual film. But whatever its faults, the Evil Queen Ravenna (played by a wonderful Charlize Theron) turned out to be a deliciously villainous nemesis, though of course she was defeated in the end by the "fairest of them all". And we will get a chance to see her return in this story adapted from the Brothers Grimm tale, Snow White and Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen.

It's labelled as a prequel/sequel because it will deal with events before and after Ravenna's death in Snow White and the Huntsman - from her killing her younger sister Freya's daughter for being destined to defeat her as the fairest in the land, to Freya turning into the vengeful Ice Queen (played by Emily Blunt) to more of Eric the Huntsman's back-story to what happens once Freya learns of Ravenna's death at the hands of Snow White. Kristen Stewart will not star in this film, but Sam Claflin will return as King William.

Chris Hemsworth, who is the Huntsman, is convinced that The Huntsman: Winter's War is everything we wanted the first film to be, which he admits was lacking...

Chris Hemsworth, who is the Huntsman, is convinced that The Huntsman: Winter's War is everything we wanted the first film to be, which he also admits was lacking and confused. Whether it can live up to that remains to be seen. Until 22 April just enjoy the gorgeously shot trailer.

Alice Through The Looking Glass

Come May 27, it's back down the rabbit hole for us (or more specifically through the looking-glass but it doesn't sound as cool, am I right?). This time it's James Bobin (of Da Ali G Show and The Muppets fame - bet you never thought you'd read that in a sentence!) at the helm, while Tim Burton remains producer of this sequel to 2010's Alice in Wonderland based on Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass.

According to the synopsis released on IMDB and the like, Alice returns to Wonderland after a gap of three years just in time to save the Mad Hatter. Mia Wasikowska (Alice), Johnny Depp (the Mad Hatter), Helena Bonham Carter (the Red Queen), Anne Hathaway (the White Queen) and Matt Lucas (Tweedledum and Tweedledee) reprise their roles from the first film, while Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall and the late Alan Rickman (of 'Always' fame) are back as the voices behind the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Bloodhound and Absolem the Caterpillar respectively. Sacha Baron Cohen (Time) and Rhys Ifans (the Mad Hatter's father) are new additions to the cast.

I wasn't a fan of the first Alice movie and my expectations aren't all that high for this one either. But the trailer does look engagingly whimsical.

I wasn't a fan of the first movie and my expectations aren't all that high for this one either. But the trailer does look engagingly whimsical.

The Legend of Tarzan

David Yates (who directed the last four Harry Potter films among many others) is on course to have a good 2016 with both The Legend of Tarzan and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them being released during the year.

Starring Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan and Margot Robbie as Jane, this take on the fictional character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs practises a very different approach to previous adaptations - film, TV, animation - and returns to borrow more from the original source material yet tell a very different story. The film begins a decade after John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke (aka Tarzan) has returned from the Congo to live in Victorian London with his wife, Jane. He is invited back to the Congo as an emissary of Parliament. Hesitant at first, he returns, unaware of the dangers that lurk there to himself, Jane and old friends. Samuel L Jackson, Djimon Hounsou and Christoph Waltz (who plays the main antagonist, the ruthless Captain Leon Rom) form the rest of the prominent characters in the cast. After the spate of origin stories that this franchise already consists of, it might be a refreshing change to see something new.

Which one are you looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comments below.

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