“Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” is a much darker take on the Disney movie “The Jungle Book” based on the collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling.
The film stars Rohan Chand as the titular character Mowgli. Actors Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis and Benedict Cumberbatch lend their voices to the movie as Bagheera, Kaa, Baloo, and Shere Khan, respectively.
“Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” relies heavily on CGI technology, which makes sense considering the movie is directed by Serkis. Serkis is known for his motion capture work in films such as the Planet of the Apes franchise, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. The movie is visually beautiful, but the story doesn’t quite live up to it.
The movie follows the general premise of previous Jungle Book movies. Mowgli is a young boy who is raised by the animals of the jungle and is despised by the tiger. Mowgli is caught between the jungle world and the human world where he belongs. In this adaption, the movie focuses heavily on Mowgli and the wolf family that raises him.
Mowgli is the only human for most of the movie, which also makes the viewer appreciate the acting skills of youngster Chand. Chand finally gets scenes with other humans when, after he fails to join the wolf pack, he is captured by hunter Lockwood and taken to a nearby village. The introduction of Lockwood is when the movie starts to take a darker turn.
Lockwood starts out as kind to Mowgli, he teaches him to live as a human and he even gives him a knife. However, this takes a turn for the worst when Mowgli finds Lockwood’s mini-museum of dead animals, including Mowgli’s little wolf brother Bhoot. For a story traditionally seen as a children’s movie, this was a particularly dark scene.
The second act of the movie seems very rushed, almost like the writers realized that they spent too much time in the build-up in the story and that they suddenly need to finish it. Overall, the ending is satisfying for the viewer but doesn’t really bring anything new, exciting or unexpected. This is the third rendition of the Jungle Book, coming just two years after the commercially and critically successful Disney remake.
This movie was perfect for a streaming service like Netflix, where viewers can enjoy the movie in their own home and can turn it off if they want to. However, if the movie had been in theaters, people might have been disappointed that they had paid money to see it.