Rudyard Kipling's famous collection of stories called 'The Jungle Book' has been made into countless movies and television shows over the years. Following the trend, Netflix also released their own version which was 'Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle'. The Andy Serkis directorial is something really unique from the rest in the fact that is rather dark, as the trailers had foreshadowed. Now, let us see how the movie has fared.
The movie starts off with the fearsome Shere Khan, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, attacking some men and women. It is shown that he is hunting for a small child, referred to as a 'man-cub' throughout the film. In comes Bagheera, the black panther played by Christian Bale, gently carrying the child and rescuing it from certain death. Soon, the 'man-cub' joins the wolves and the real plot kicks off from there.
The movie shows Mowgli, played a Rohan Chand, a young boy who is raised by the wolves, Nisha and Vihaan. He realises from a young age that he is different from the other wolves and his only goal is to prove himself to the pack. Under Baloo the bear's training, which is voiced by Serkis himself, Mowgli is soon ready to participate in a tradition called the running, which is a right of passage for wolves to join hunting with adults. Unfortunately, Mowgli fails in this endeavour and humiliated, heads to a man-village nearby.
Here he learns the ways of men and is happy and content until he finds out that the wolf pack is in danger. Shere Khan has overtaken the jungle and is tearing the pack apart. An enraged Mowgli also learns that it was the Bengal tiger which orphaned him at a young age. Hell-bent on revenge, but torn between his identity as a man and a wolf, the rest of the tale is the young boy's struggle to earn his respect back and if he succeeds in his goal or not.
The story, although predictable and done to death, gets a very fresh treatment in this adaptation. Andy Serkis paints a really dark and bloody picture of the jungle and it is certainly not a very child-friendly film, which is strange considering the fact that actual story was for kids. Rohan Chand shines throughout the flick as the only human character who gets maximum screen time. His expressions are visceral and perfectly capture the essence of a boy raised in the wild.
Next one who deserves your attention is Bagheera, for Christian Bale breaths new life into the character. His backstory and motivations are really intriguing to watch and is perhaps the best character in the film. Benedict is really something to behold as Shere Khan and the tiger's scary visage with his distinct baritone is bound to give you goosebumps. Cate Blanchett too makes a worthy cameo as Kaa the python as she hyptonises the viewers with her commanding voice. The visual effects and action set pieces are also done well, with the film going to places no version of Mowgli would have ever gone.
The only major drawback seemed to be the climax, which seemed dull, rushed and it felt like after building up the stakes so high, the conclusion was not as grand as was anticipated. However, overall it is an entertaining watch, although it may not get a lot of praise fans of the actual franchise. But as a standalone film, 'Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle' is a solid attempt at retelling a famous tale and manages to hold your attention throughout.
Cast: Rohan Chand, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Andy Serkis, Cate-Blanchett
What works: Visuals, action set pieces
What doesn't: The climax
Get the latest entertainment news from India & around the world. Now follow your favourite television celebs and telly updates. Republic World is your one-stop destination for trending Bollywood news. Tune in today to stay updated with all the latest news and headlines from the world of entertainment.