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Mowgli Legend of the Jungle: My Movie Review

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (known also as Mowgli as stylized on screen) is a fantasy adventure film of 2018 directed by a former actor who played Gollum in Lord of the Rings, it’s no other than Andy Serkis, with a screenplay by Callie Kloves. The film is based on stories by Rudyard Kipling in All the Mowgli Stories.

In 2012, talks of a new Jungle Book film began from Warner Bros. Pictures and various directors, including Ron Howard, Steven Kloves, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, and were approached before Serkis confirmed in March 2014. In March 2015, principal photography began and much of the cast signed on August. It took in South Africa for the filming and at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, England.

The film was originally scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures in October 2016, it was only delayed numerous times to work on its visual effects and also to create space between itself and the April 2016 release of Walt Disney Picture’s own Jungle Book adaptation.

In July 2018, WBP sold the rights for the film to Netflix. The said film was then released on November 29, 2018, on select theaters, followed by its subsequent digital Netflix release on December 7, 2018. 

The film was cast by an Indian-descent American young actor born in New York named Rohan Chand (Hassan of The Hundred-Foot Journey/ Kid at Bazaar in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle/ Chaitanya Chopra of Bad Words/ Gulab’s young son in Lone Survivor) as Mowgli, a naked feral child raised by wolves in the jungle.

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Welsh actor and director Matthew Rhys (Philip Jennings of The Americans/ Kevin Walker of Brothers & Sisters) played his role as the colonial hunter. Indian actress Freida Pinto (Older Latika of Slumdog Millionaire/ Phaedra of Immortal/ Isabella of Bruno Mars’ music video Gorilla) played her role as Messua, a woman in the village who took care of Mowgli.
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Welsh American actor Christian Bale (Batman of Batman Begins trilogy/ John Connor of Terminator/ Thomas of Pocahontas) played as the voice actor of Bagheera, a black panther who is one of Mowgli’s mentors who found him as a baby. Shere Khan, a crippled Bengal tiger who is Mowgli’s arch-enemy, was voiced by English actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Stephen Strange of Doctor Strange and Avengers: Infinity War/ Sherlock of Sherlock Holmes/ The Grinch of The Grinch/ Patrick of Patrick Melrose).
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Australian actress Cate Blanchett (Galadriel of Lord of the Rings/ Florence of The House with a Clock in Its Walls/ Lou of Ocean Eight) played as the voice actor of an Indian rock python named Kaa. She is the jungle’s seer and one of Mowgli’s mentors. She also narrates the film.
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English actor Tom Hollander (Mr. Collins of Pride and Prejudice/ Jim Beach of Bohemian Rhapsody/ Cutler Beckett of Pirates of the Caribbean) voiced as a striped hyena who is Shere Khan’s deranged accomplice — Tabaqui.
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Andy Serkis, (Caesar of Planet of the Apes/ Ulysses Klaue of Black Panther/ Snoke of Star Wars) the director for this film and at the same time an English Hollywood actor who praised for his animation role as Gollum in Lord of the Rings, played as the voice actor for Baloo,  a sloth bear who is also one of Mowgli’s teachers.
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British actress Naomi Harris (Paula of Moonlight/ Eve of Skyfall) and English actor Eddie Marsan (Duir of Snow White and the Huntsman/ Headmaster of Deadpool 2) both played as the voice actors for Mowgli’s adopted parents who are wolves namely Nisha and Vihaan respectively.
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Akela, an Indian wolf who is the leader of his pack, is voiced by Scottish actor Peter Mullan (Michael of Mum/ Jacob Shell of Ozark/ James Delos of Westworld/ Henry Garnet of Gunpowder).
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Louis Ashbourne Serkis (young hatter of Alice Through the Looking Glass/ Peter of Mary and the Witch’s Flower/ Robert of Taboo), son of actors Lorraine Ashbourne and Andy Serkis, who is also the director for this film, played as the voice actor for Bhoot, an albino Indian wolf cub who treats Mowgli as his best friend.
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This version of Jungle Book live-action film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the visual effects, cast, and Serkis’ direction, yet many compared it unfavorably to the Disney film and was criticized for the uneven tone, calling this one as “messy — if ambitious — misfire”.

IMDb, the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content, gave 6.6/10 star votes among 21, 844 voters. While on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 53% based on 86 reviews, with 5.5/10 for the average rating. The site’s critical consensus also reads,

“Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle brings impressive special effects to bear on the darker side of its classic source material, but loses track of the story’s heart along the way.”

On Metacritic, its weighted average score is 51/100, based on 22 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.

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Kate Erbland of IndieWire gave the film a “C+” and wrote: 

“Too dark for kids, too tame for adults. Stunning effects, occasionally wretched motion-capture. The technology may be there, but that doesn’t mean it’s been utilized to its full, feeling powers. It’s a coming-of-age story unable to push forward in all the ways that really matter.”

In my own personal insight, though this film has been critically judged for its too dark version for kids, yet I still give my two thumbs-up for this film, since this one imbues the reality of life inside a jungle where a feral child struggles to adapt the animalistic society. I can still appreciate the cast since most of the actors are Indian as well as the one who plays Mowgli; it depicts the authenticity of the story that it really took place somewhere in the remote boondocks of India.

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With the former actor of Lord of the Rings as Gollum — Andy Serkis — who played as the voice actor of Baloo and as well as the director for this film, I appreciate his works for the best direction in this darker version of Jungle Book. Hats off for his work and with this I give my 7.2/10 for this film which I considered this as a glimpse for my childhood years.
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For me, this is one of the best remake films of the year with a much darker tale, and one should not miss watching since this will bring you to the other side of Rudyard Kipling’s version of Jungle Book.

It’s a must watch for kids! Truly natural and compelling!

If you haven’t watched this film yet, here’s its official trailer courtesy of Netflix YT channel:

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What do you think?

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  1. I watched this film two nights ago, and enjoyed it a lot. Although I think it is wrong-headed to compare it to Disney’s 1967 or 2016 productions (since it not a remake of them, but rather an interpretation of Kipling), it is nonetheless inevitable that viewers will make such comparisons. I haven’t seen Disney’s recent remake, but I did miss the lightness and the songs from the 1967 animation. However, as the movie progressed, I became more engrossed in it on its own merits. The only element that’s ‘too dark’ for kids, in my opinion, is Bhoot’s final appearance. To be honest, that left even me a bit shaken!

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