Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle – The DVDfever Cinema / Netflix Review – Christian Bale

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, aka just Mowgli in some territories, retells The Jungle Book for Netflix, brought to us in the director’s chair by Andy Serkis, who’s best known for being in a motion-capture suit for big-screen movies such as War For The Planet Of The Apes and Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

But do we need another movie like this after Jon Favreau last brought us his version of The Jungle Book in 2016?

Instead of Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch voices the evil Shere Khan – who wants to eat the titular character after he finished off the man-cub’s parents prior to the start of this story, but I still have BC’s portrayal of Smaug in The Hobbit ringing in my ears. He’s just one of many well-known actors in this, as it certainly has a huge cast.

To me, Baloo’s supposed to be a friendly bear, not only as Bill Murray played him two years ago, but also as I first experienced the character in the 1967 Disney movie. Here, Andy Serkis plays the role as an snarly Cockney.

As for King Louie, he’s portrayed by… no-one. He’s not in this version.

I don’t think a new version of Rudyard Kipling‘s novel was particularly necessary, just two years after 2016’s The Jungle Book, and with a sequel to that having been announced, but it does actually makes a nice change to watch a version of the story without songs. We nearly had that in 2016, but they still slipped in a portion of two songs.

Andy Serkis as a cockney Baloo

There’s a few amusing moments early on, but when we get to the point in the story where Mowgli leaves the pack, oh, it really starts to drag, and it feels like that part of it was a big substitute for having Louie or any songs. As such, you could cut 20-25 minutes out of this and really speed things up.

There’s some nifty CGI as Kaa ‘snakes’ through the jungle.. (sorry, I couldn’t resist using that term, but you know what I mean when I say that), but overall, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle brings us CGI that looks like it’s from a film made in 2008, rather than 2018, and which isn’t as good as that most recent version which I’ve mentioned a few times – including how Tabaqui (Tom Hollander) looks less like a jackal, and more like one of the Mongrels from an old BBC3 series.

Also, this feels a bit pointless, given how it’s the exact same story.

But then this isn’t a new thing in cinema and the example I go back to time and time again is from my first experience of such a situation, in 1991 when Patrick Bergin’s Robin Hood was released in May, while Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves came out in July. Before the release, Costner is noted as saying “There’s no point in being second”, but he proved himself wrong as it was his version which was a massive hit, while no-one can remember Bergin’s Robin. It certainly didn’t help for him that, thanks to Costner’s forthcoming release, Bergin’s movie was denied a theatrical release in the US.

Netflix make a lot of great TV series, such as Ozark, plus movies, for which both Death Note and Okja were in my Top 3 movies of 2017, but this just feels a bit flat, as there’s a constant to-ing and fro-ing as Shere Khan pops up… then goes away again, then comes back, then goes away, and so on until the running time is complete.

I thought I’d conclude by saying this will be passable for families to watch over Christmas, but I think even they will get rather bored from the mid-point onwards.

Note: The BBFC have confirmed this film is a 12A-certificate for content I’ll describe behind a spoiler header. You know the story so it’s not much of a spoiler, but just in case…

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Mowgli is released today on Netflix.

Mowgli – Trailer – Netflix

Detailed specs:

Running time: 104 minutes
Studio: Netflix
Year: 2018
Format: 2.39:1 (Dolby Vision)
Released: November 29th 2018 (cinema); December 7th 2018 (Netflix)
Rating: 4/10

Director: Andy Serkis
Producers: Jonathan Cavendish, Steve Kloves, Andy Serkis
Screenplay: Callie Kloves
Novel: Rudyard Kipling
Music: Nitin Sawhney

Mowgli: Rohan Chand
Bagheera: Christian Bale
Shere Khan: Benedict Cumberbatch
Kaa: Cate Blanchett
Tabaqui: Tom Hollander
Baloo: Andy Serkis
Akela: Peter Mullan
Nisha: Naomie Harris
Messua: Freida Pinto
Vihaan: Eddie Marsan
Brother Wolf: Jack Reynor
John Lockwood: Matthew Rhys
Bhoot: Louis Ashbourne Serkis
Wolf Cub: Georgie Farmer
Elder Pre: Josh Jefferies
Various characters: Robin Berry
Indian Villager: Riaz Mansoor

Previously on DVDfever:

November 14th:

Mowgli has been renamed as Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, and a second trailer has been released.

Andy SerkisMowgli: Legend of the Jungle gets a limited theatrical release on the now-later date of November 29th, and will then be on Netflix on December 7th.

Check out the new trailer below:


Previously on DVDfever:

May 21st:

Mowgli – yes, despite the most recent version of The Jungle Book only coming out two years ago, it’s time for Andy Serkis‘ version, as he steps in the director’s chair, as well as into the CGI body of Baloo, and word has it that this will be a much darker version.

It was originally due to be called The Jungle Book, but how daft would that have looked so soon, so Mowgli it is, and he’s played by newcomer Rohan Chand.

The basic premise, as you’ll know, is that the lad is raised by wolves, and must face off against a menacing tiger named Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), as well as his own origins.

A new trailer, poster and featurette have been released today.

Mowgli is released in the UK on October 19th, so just in time for the half-term holidays. The 2016 version was pretty good, and really could’ve survived without the two songs they crammed in. Yes, The Jungle Book without songs! It could be possible! Maybe it is?

Director: Andy Serkis
Novel: Rudyard Kipling
Screenplay: Callie Kloves
Also stars: Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Peter Mullan, Eddie Marsan, Matthew Rhys, Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander, Freida Pinto, Jack Reynor, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Georgie Farmer

Check out the trailer and featurette below and click on the poster for the full-size image.