Title – Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)
Director – Andy Serkis (Breathe)
Cast – Matthew Rhys, Rohan Chand, Freida Pinto, (Voices of) Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, Andy Serkis, Peter Mullan, Jack Reynor, Eddie Marsan, Tom Hollander
Plot – A dark retelling of the famous Rudyard Kipling novel The Jungle Book, focussing on young boy Mowgli (Chand) who faces an uphill battle to find his place in the world after being raised in the jungle by a pack of animals.
“You are something the jungle has never seen before”
Review by Eddie on 13/12/2018
Poor old Mowgli.
Once touted as a high-profile cinema release, this big-budgeted Warner Brothers film that was original filmed in 2015 and scheduled to be released in 2016, was held back due to Disney’s direct competitor The Jungle Book, that launched to dominate box-office figures and critical acclaim in that same year, meaning Andy Serkis’s passion project that was developed with ground-breaking motion capture technology was given time on the shelf to be re-jigged until it has been quite clearly dumped by its studio in low-key cinema screenings and sold to streaming behemoth Netflix.
It’s not hard to see why a big studio like Warner Brothers decided after year’s of production that Serkis’s film wasn’t one it wanted to risk big marketing budgets on, as this take on the classic Rudyard Kipling’s novel (titled Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle) is a dark, song-free affair that’s not at all targeted to younger audiences, as Serkis instead fills his A-list casted feature with a sense of foreboding dread and violence as newcomer Rohan Chan’s Mowgli experiences the dark side of the jungle his been raised in almost all of his life.
In some ways it’s great to see Mowgli difference itself from the more breezy incarnations of Kipling’s story that have hit screens in the past but it’s hard to even know who the target audience is for this tale, that at the end of the day remains a relatively by the book account of the narrative that feels rather pointless in the grand scheme of things outside of Serkis showing off the ability to capture performances utilising motion capture techniques.
The problem the film faces in this instance however (and disappointingly so) is that despite some gorgeous scenery and stunning animal designs, there are far too many moments where Mowgli feels haphazard in its computer generated imagery, breaking the illusion of reality far too often, giving off the feeling that despite all the year’s of production and fine tuning, quality control dropped as the project seemed more and more destined to be released with little to no fanfare.
It’s a real shame the film feels so undercooked and somewhat sloppily put together as Serkis assembled a dream cast to bring this tale to life through performance capture and voice work.
With the likes of Christian Bale as kind-hearted jaguar Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as the evil tiger Shere Khan, Cate Blanchett as wise snake Kaa and Naomie Harris as motherly wolf Nisha, Mowgli features some all-round talent behind and in front of the camera and you get the feeling that with more elements gelling, this dark take on the beloved tale could’ve been something very special.
Final Say –
A film that never quite makes its mark as a new take of an age-old tale, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is obviously a victim of its countless delays and production issues and nothing more than a passable attempt by Serkis to look at the story with a new set of eyes and technological advancements.
2 ½ long-lasting fire sticks out of 5