Netflix’s latest release comes from the mind of director Andy Serkis, and is the newest adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic tale, The Jungle Book. However, this is not your Disney version of The Jungle Book as Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is considerably darker and edgier than the animated Disney film or Jon Favreau’s live action adaptation from a couple years ago.
The story is similar to start. Mowgli (Rohan Chand) is a baby when his parents are killed by the violent tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch). Mowgli winds up with the wolf pack and is protected from the tiger’s teeth as Khan swears to eventually taste the man cub’s blood. Mowgli is raised in the pack until the tiger returns to cause further chaos by inciting the humans by killing their cattle.
The panther Bagheera (Christian Bale) and the bear Baloo (Andy Serkis) do what they can to protect the man cub from the dangers of the jungle while still trying to teach him how to survive.
There is a lot of violence in this version, so do not mistake this for a children’s movie. This is more in line with the original version from Rudyard Kipling than it is with the other theatrical versions. The dark tone is not a problem as it seems to fit fairly well with the life of these animals.
The CGI of some of the animals are nowhere as smooth as the Favreau version. There are times when these talking animals were simply weird to look at and that is a major drawback after we saw the exact same type of CGI pulled off flawlessly.
While it may not be fair to compare the two versions (or the animated Disney one) of this story, it is difficult to avoid, especially with the said version coming out just a few months ago. And with WB selling this to Netflix for release, there is the idea that WB did not believe that this film would have survived a theatrical release. I think they were probably correct in that assumption.
Again, that does not make this a poor movie. It only makes it one with flaws.
The voice cast is tremendous, including the wondrous Cate Blanchett as Kaa. There was no music, not a sign of “Bare Necessities” anywhere and that is a good thing since it would have felt totally out of place with the story this film was telling. The young actor who played Mowgli, Rohan Chand, was solid in the role. He may not have stood out as much as did Neel Sethi did in 2016, but Chand was respectable.
The film is uneven as it suffered from moments of dullness, despite other moments of freedom and drama. There was not much dealing with the humans that was worth the time in the film, and that connection for Mowgli is lost. Perhaps that was the idea.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is not a bad time and is most likely a decent watch on Netflix. Most of the film looks good and the story is different enough to keep you invested.