Rob Reviews "Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle"
When perusing Netflix, you will come across a film called “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” which they bought from Warner Bros. last year to have as an exclusive on the streaming service. Knowing what we know of that character, it would be easy to queue this up to nestle in with the family and enjoy a Family Movie Night with a new telling of the classic “Jungle Book” story.
One would think.
I’m not saying that this is a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. Motion capture and voiceover legend Andy Serkis directs this version with a voice cast that includes Christian Bale as Bagheera, Cat Blanchett as Kaa, Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan, Naomi Harris as Nisha, Serkis himself as Baloo, and a list that just keeps going on and on with relative newcomer Rohan Chand in the title role. The visual style here is a bit different, as the CGI animators made the interesting decision to incorporate the facial expression stylings of the actors into the animals, which took a bit to get used to but once locks in actually is pretty cool (especially Serkis and Bale).
Where things get kind of sticky here is in the telling of the story itself. Serkis has said all along that this telling would be a bit darker in tone than past versions, and he is not kidding. I would not say that this is overtly violent, but it is definitely more so than other versions of Rudyard Kipling’s classic story has been brought to a visual medium before. Adding the anti-poaching overtones as well as Mowgli’s interactions with the village of man in a way that seemed like a natural progression for his character set this version a bit apart from some of the others, but I am not sure that overall this film puts itself in the medal round when compared to them. I wouldn’t say that the Disney versions specifically were any better, but this definitely flirts with the “apples and oranges” comparison.
When considering “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” for said Family Movie Night, I would suggest the adults watch it separately first to make sure the ages of the children will be okay with this version. I guess if they were able to handle the Jon Favreau version, this would be the next step in that progression, but still check it out first to be sure. This is an entertaining film, but I am not sure I would have it at the top of my queue and at the same time would not have it anywhere near the bottom of it either.