Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle – Movie Review

Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle – Details

Distributor: Netflix
Production Companies: Warner Bros. Pictures, & the Imaginarium  
Director: Andy Serkis
Producers: Steve Kloves, Jonathan Cavendish, and David Barron

Scriptwriters: Callie Kloves (based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling)
Main Cast: Rohan Chand, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, Andy Serkis, Matthew Rhys, and Freida Pinto
Released: 25 November 2018 (Mumbai), 29 November 2018 (UK & US)

Running Time:  104 Minutes
Certificate: 12A

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Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle

I have always loved the world of the Jungle Book from the Disney movie and series, to other creative interpretations of the stories. This beloved story of many of our childhoods was one of the first (of many to come) live action remakes Disney released to box office success. However, Andy Serkis and Warner Bros was also working on a live action adaption of the IP, deciding to distance itself from the Disney film, it released in 2018 two years after Disney’s the Jungle Book (2016).

Story of Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle

The story follows Mowgli (man-cub) and his mother being attacked by Shere Khan (Tiger) where the beast ultimately tastes the blood of the mother as the boy escapes. The ruthless Tiger goes on later in the film to proclaim he has tasted the blood of the mother, so the boy belongs to him. Luckily Mowgli is indoctrinated into a pack of wolves lead by Akira. The pack is also home to Baloo (Bear) and Bagheera (Panther) who both contribute their skills to the pack. Bagheera offers a fresh kill in order to vouch for the man-cub. However, this is not to last whilst hunting Akira misses his kill and the other wolves’ sense he can be toppled.

Alpha Wolf        

They return home and start fighting Akira for the alpha position. This is when Mowgli has to escape due to Shere Khan waiting for the fight for power to resolve so he can eat Mowgli.  The man-cub flees to the man village. Some time passes and one of Mowgli’s wolf brothers come to plead for help. Shere Khan continues to antagonise man whilst pushing the wolves closer to the edge of the jungle right by the man village. Shere Khan has made the wolves turn on each other. Each night Akela and his wolves are attacked by his own kind. In the village man has hired a hunter named Lockwood. Mowgli escorts him back to his tent one night only to see his albino brother stuffed on his wall.

The Stand Off

Mowgli then goes and pleads to the wolves to stand up against Shere Khan. With Akela stating it would break the laws of the Jungle. Yet Mowgli remains determined and proclaims, “tomorrow the Tiger dies.” Mowgli is next seen calling the Tiger out on his own, holding out his knife ready for the beast. The beast appeards mocking Mowgli for using a man’s tool. This is when the boy howls calling an army of Elephants to his position ones that easily knock Shere Khan about like a mint in a Tik Tac box. The elephants then box the two in and allow the man-cub and Tiger to fight to the death, one on one.

Shere Khan’s Death

Shere Khan gets lodged in a tree and is about to be finished off by the triumphant man-cub when Lockwood the hunter nearly shoots Mowgli aiming for the Tiger. Mowgli shots “There is your hunter!” signalling the elephants to swarm the man who has been hunting them. Lockwood however manages to get another shot off before hand and injures Mowgli. Luckily however the man-cub is saved by Akela, Mowgli does leave the fight triumphant with him unifying the forces of the jungle for good. Forcing a weakened heavily injured Shere Khan to retreat as he lays down and slowly fades away, succumbing to his injuries.

Analysis of Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle

Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle is excellently directed by the talented Andy Serkis. The talented actor also returns to deliver another outstanding motion capture role. Although his portrayal of Baloo isn’t on the same level as Cesar (Planet of the Apes) and Gollum (Lord of the Rings) but is still entertaining none the same. To be fair the whole cast is outstanding in their motion captured animal forms. I particularly enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan. BC’s portrayal was terrifyingly exquisite. It had me fearing for the young Mowgli more than once. The scene where he tastes Mowgli is one of the most haunting scenes I can recall ever watching. The tone is a bit all over the place, the flow isn’t quite right.

Summary of Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle

 It makes me think the movie should have been perhaps developed as a limited series. Thus allowing for more tones that are specific to the episode material contained within an episode arc. Which would allow for smoother story telling. Every performance nailed it out of the park, apart from the young actor playing Mowgli. I found him to be a bit off or underperforming at times, but he is young, and this was a big, demanding role and I think he did amazing. However, just some scenes are not as good as the rest of his performance. This does affect the flow of the film and its escapism potential. Yet I still found Mowgli: The Legend of the Jungle more than worth a watch. It is my favorite depiction of my beloved childhood story to date and one that I routinely watch a couple of times a year.

Overall Rating: 8.5 – Excellent

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