Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle dropped on Netflix yesterday and I had a chance to see it. Andy Serkis directed the movie and it tells a darker, more grounded Jungle Book story. Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis, Cate Blanchett and Rohan Chand were all brilliant cast members. I am usually a huge Andy Serkis fan, however this movie did not live up to my expectations at all.
Firstly, the movie’s best aspect was definitely the cinematography and visual effects. So many of the shots looked wonderful like the “Running” sequence and the final shot of the movie. The jungle looked fantastic to me and the animals looked great for the most part; but, none of it really matches what Favreau did with The Jungle Book in 2016.
And that leads me to one of my biggest problems. The movie doesn’t really justify itself. The one thing I hear all the time when I tell someone about this movie is “Why?” and the movie fails to answer that. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle doesn’t do anything special to me and it definitely doesn’t hold up in comparison to the Disney version.
Despite not being as good, one thing the movie did better than the Disney version was the casting for Mowgli. Rohan Chand did a fantastic job in the role and his facial expressions were detailed and proved meaningful. There were a couple of issues with delivery but they were very minor. Rohan has a very bright future ahead of him.
Even without the Disney comparisons, the movie doesn’t really work. The tone of the movie was a complete mess. It didn’t really know what it wanted to be. Sometimes it treats itself like the dark movie it advertised but other times we got extremely cheesy and stupid moments that don’t work like the Baloo and Bagheera argument scene.
In addition, some of the characterization in this movie didn’t come off the way I think Andy Serkis wanted it to. An example of this is the scene mentioned above between Baloo and Bagheera. It was supposed to come off as a very emotional moment but it didn’t feel so. There are also a bunch of other moments that I won’t get into because of spoilers. Another issue I had with the characterization was Shere Khan. He didn’t work as a villain and wasn’t as intimidating as a villain should be.
Moreover, even the human characters were extremely underdeveloped and didn’t add anything to the story for me. The performances for all of them except Mowgli were ‘decent’ at best. I don’t blame the actors though, as the script didn’t give them a lot to work with.
The flow of the movie was also a problem for me. The story and editing was extremely inelegant to me and some scenes and character arcs didn’t feel necessary for the overall story. Due to the poor editing, the movie’s pacing felt sub-par and very inconsistent.
On the other hand, one of the other technical aspects that actually worked quite well was the score. It helped in establishing the atmosphere and create tension in several of the action sequences.
Overall, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle was an extreme disappointment to me story-wise. There are good visuals and the music fits well but that isn’t enough to make the film a good one.