Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle review by Bobby Blakey
In 2016 Disney and director Jon Favreau teamed up to bring The Jungle Book to live action life like never before. There was rumblings of another version of the story being developed with master of motion capture himself Andy Serkis in the director’s seat. The film titled Mowgli: Legend fo the Jungle features an all-star cast including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, Andy Serkis, Matthew Rhys, Freida Pinto, Rohan Chand, Peter Mullan, Jack Reynor, Eddie Marsan, and Tom Hollander. Could this new take on the classic story bring something new to the vision or will it not be able to stand with the pack?
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle follows follows the upbringing of the human child Mowgli raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often-harsh rules of the jungle, under the tutelage of a bear named Baloo and a panther named Bagheera, Mowgli becomes accepted by the animals of the jungle as one of their own. All but one: the fearsome tiger Shere Khan. But there may be greater dangers lurking in the jungle, as Mowgli comes face to face with his human origins. I have always been a big fan of this story and was surprised how well the live action Disney take actually worked. With this one having motion capture master Andy Serkis at the helm I was instantly interested and despite some issues still dug what it delivered.
Story wise this one keeps the basics intact but did opt for a darker approach on some aspects and ditch all the musical numbers. Obviously for this story to work you have to believe the look and feel of the varying animal characters and while most of them worked ok there are some that don’t. All of them have a more realistic worn design complete with scars and life markings, but they don’t all work as real animals, but it makes me wonder if this was on purpose. They capture the essence of real animals with them all, but there is something about their features and depth that is kind of a border between being realistic and animated. It’s far from bad by any means just didn’t always mesh all that great for me.
The darker approach isn’t all that different from the usual story outside of the violence which did make the film have more emotional impact and dire consequences. The entire voice cast all did a great job and Serkis has crafted a great take on the classic tale, but its direction might not work for everyone. Decide for yourself and check out Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle available now on Netflix.