Because few can surpass Eddie Murphy's iteration as the doctor who talks to animals, it is no surprise that the makers of the latest film adaptation have turned to no less than Robert Downey Jr. to assume the role. 

Billed as a vivid reimagining of the latest tale, the movie finds the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Downey), famed doctor and veterinarian of Queen Victoria’s England, hermiting himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company after the death of his wife. But when the young queen (Jessie Buckley) falls gravely ill, a reluctant Dolittle is forced to set sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure, regaining his wit and courage as he crosses old adversaries and discovers wondrous creatures.

The doctor is joined on his quest by a young, self-appointed apprentice (Harry Collett) and a raucous coterie of animal friends, including an anxious gorilla (Rami Malek), an enthusiastic but bird-brained duck (Octavia Spencer), a bickering duo of a cynical ostrich (Kumail Nanjiani) and an upbeat polar bear (John Cena) and a headstrong parrot (Emma Thompson), who serves as Dolittle’s most trusted adviser and confidante.

Dolittle opens in cinemas next Jan: