Culture

Rumble in the Jungle Book: Benedict Cumberbatch Cast as Shere Khan in Rival Film

Benedict Cumberbatch/Photo © Jaguar PS/Shutterstock

Editor's Note: Benedict Cumberbatch will tap his feline side for the Andy Serkis adaptation of The Jungle Book, an unexpected romance in "Expendables 3," and more in today's roundup.

So far all the Jungle Book buzz has been focused on the Disney version starring Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, and Scarlett Johansson. In all the hubbub we've overlooked that Andy Serkis is making his own version of the Kipling tale, rumored to be "much darker," and now boasting Benedict Cumberbatch as its villain. So which Shere Khan will reign supreme: Cumberbatch, or Disney's Idris Elba? The rest of Serkis's cast notwithstanding, it will be an honor to watch both these performances.

Which two "Expendables 3" characters would you expect to end up sharing a gay romance? This question is no longer theoretical, since director Patrick Hughes has confirmed for viewers that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li's characters are in fact a couple. The most amazing thing about that is the total lack of controversy it's stirred up among action movie fans, many of whom may not have gotten the memo -- both "Ninja Turtles" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" far outpaced the new "Expendables" at the box office last weekend.

Another unlikely coupling: John Lithgow and Alfred Molina in the upcoming Ira Sachs film "Love Is Strange," in which they play an old married couple going through a rough transition. If you look closely in the background, you'll see an actual photo of the actors together at a theater event several decades ago. As is fitting of old marrieds, neither Lithgow or Molina claims to remember that chance meeting.

Many recall Don Bluth films like "The Secret of NIMH" and "An American Tale" as a strange counter-balance to the feel-good Disney films of the 1980s, but few realized he was a renegade animator who left Disney with more than a dozen others to form a rival company. This retrospective of Bluth's films and career history fills in a lot of context that young viewers at the time would have failed to understand. Oh, and thanks for the reminder that "The Lion King" totally ripped off all that Circle of Life talk from "The Land Before Time."