Movie Review: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)

Starring: Rohan Chand, Christian Bale and Benedict Cumberbatch

Directed by: Andy Serkis

A human child named Mowgli is raised in the jungle by wolves but as he grows older the fearsome tiger, Shere Khan, who killed his parents returns. Mowgli must battle to survive the harshness of the jungle as well as steer clear of Shere Khan as he learns of his origins.

I found the release of Mowgli to be a strange one as we only had a live action Jungle Book release two years ago which was a pretty good movie so I was a little confused with the need to release another movie of the same story so soon after. The cast was pretty stacked as the voice actors included the likes of Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris and the incredible Andy Serkis who did double duty and was not only the voice of Baloo, the bear, but took the directors chair also. The child actor picked to play the part of Mowgli was a great choice as Rohan Chand is an extremely talented young actor who I first saw in Bad Words where he starred alongside Jason Bateman and put on an outstanding performance at such a young age so I was excited to see what he could do with the Mowgli character.

My first impressions of the movie were quite poor as the opening sequence looked very cheap and poorly done, especially with how the CGI snake (Kaa) looked. As the movie progressed the visuals were outstanding for the rest of the animals and the jungle setting but for whatever reason the few scenes that Kaa featured looked really bad in comparison as if these scenes were an afterthought or the studio had ran out of cash to make Kaa look half decent. Rohan Chand as Mowgli took a while to really find his feet in the role but when he did he was a pleasure to watch and credit to the actor as it’s not necessarily easy to act when your standing in a room surrounded by nothing but green screen and production crew trying to create genuine emotion from nothing but your imagination. I was really impressed with what Rohan Chand was able to achieve and I really think he has such a bright future ahead of him should he wish to pursue acting as he grows older.

As touched upon the visuals in this movie were outstanding. The jungle scenery and the way in which the majority of the animals looked was incredible and some of the voice acting was spectacular with Andy Serkis (Baloo) being the top performer, although over the years he’s built up a reputation for this with his portrayal of both Gollum from LOTR/Hobbit movies and Caesar in the latest Planet of the Apes movies that it’s become the norm for him to be excellent. I liked that this movie was able to add a more emotional and desperate side to Mowgli’s character as he struggles to keep up with the rest of the wolf pack and the way in which he deals with his personal failures. The fine attention to detail really added a lot of depth to both the character and the story and when you mix in some of the darkness that we haven’t really seen in a Jungle Book movie before the film felt a lot more adult orientated which I greatly appreciated.

Overall, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle was a wonderful movie that was very well acted by Rohan Chand and was very visually pleasing. I didn’t really like the monkey’s in this movie and didn’t understand the exclusion of King Louie but the rest of the animal characters were superbly created and written for. For me this was slightly better than Jon Favreau’s 2016 version of the story.

8/10

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