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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Movie Review | A Boy Finds His True Home

Both good and evil exist in the worlds of animals and Man.

November 28, 2018

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Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Movie Review | A Boy Finds His True Home - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Nov 28, 2018
( Rating: 4 Star Rating)

Kidzworld reviews the Netflix film Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. It’s a darker and more emotional tale than Disney’s 2016 The Jungle Book.

By: Lynn Barker

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle tells the story of orphan human boy Mowgli (Rohan Chand) raised since babyhood by wolves in the jungles of India. He is taught in the ways of the pack by his wolf parents, bear Baloo (voice of Andy Serkis) and black panther Bagheera (Christian Bale) but he can’t run as fast as the wolves in a hunt and can thus never join the pack. Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), the tiger who killed his parents, also wants to kill Mowgli. As he struggles with the tiger and his own identity, the boy will come in contact with other humans and must choose his path; the world of the jungle animals or humankind. Both good and evil exist in both worlds.

Mowgli has to decide-the jungle or the human villageMowgli has to decide-the jungle or the human villageCourtesy of Netflix

Beginnings

In the jungles of India parents of a baby are killed by a fierce tiger. A panther named Bagheera rescues the baby, takes him to a cave and watches over him while giant python Kaa (Cate Blanchett) looks on. The baby isn’t afraid when sniffed by a family of wolves. They call him a “Mancub” and wonder what to do with him. Wolf mother of three cubs Nisha (Naomie Harris) and her mate want to raise the mancub as a wolf. Bagheera and Baloo vouch for the human boy. Wolf enemy Shere Khan wants to eat him. They will protect him. He is allowed in the pack as long as the wolf leader Akela (Peter Mullen) is alive.

Baloo and panther Bagheera watch over MowgliBaloo and panther Bagheera watch over MowgliCourtesy of Netflix

Growing Up

Raised by the pack and taught animal ways by Bagheera and Baloo, Mowgli grows into a boy who learns that no animal hunts for sport. He learns the three wolf laws; No wolf should have contact with Man, No wolf should hurt Man’s animals and no wolf shall kill Man in the jungles. Killing Man only brings danger. Mowgli must learn to run faster and have better focus if he is to pass the wolf ritual called The Running in which the young wolves must escape the claws of Bagheera by outrunning and outsmarting him if they are to truly join the pack.  Mowgli and small young albino wolf brother Bhoot (Lewis Ashbourne Serkis) play together and it’s thought they will both fail the test.

Mowgli hopes he can join the wolf packMowgli hopes he can join the wolf packCourtesy of Netflix

Warnings

Baloo warns Mowgli to avoid the shifty monkey people and not to tangle with Kaa the python who knows the past and can read the future. When Shere Khan kills the villagers’ cattle he will bring Mankind into the jungle hunting him. Some wolves blame Mowgli and want to give him to the tiger. The wolfpack leader Akela says the jungle is changing. Man takes more of it each year. Some wolves want to send Mowgli to the village of men where they think he belongs. He can only stay if he passes The Running ritual. Mowgli continues to try to run faster all while trying to avoid being eaten by tiger Shere Khan. At one point, he is rescued by an elephant with one tusk. Men enter the jungle to find and kill Shere Khan who has been eating cattle. Bagheera warns Mowgli to go to the human village if he fails The Running. Mowgli resists this idea. He’s a wolf!

Great python Kaa can see past and futureGreat python Kaa can see past and futureCourtesy of Netflix

The Running

The cubs, including Mowgli line up and on clue from the wolf leader, start their run, chased by Bagheera who will not back off from treating Mowgli as the others. Finally, Bagheera catches him. He has failed. He feels that his friend Bagheera especially targeted him and Baloo’s teachings were useless. Angry, he runs away. Little Bhoot sees a group of monkeys grab him. He tells Baloo and Bagheera who look for Mowgli. The evil monkeys give Mowgli to Shere Khan who claws the boy. The bear and panther come to his rescue. Disgraced, Mowgli and Bhoot can’t join the next hunt.

The pack and Mowgli ready for The RunningThe pack and Mowgli ready for The RunningCourtesy of Netflix

Leaving the Pack

Bhoot looks on the bright side but Mowgli hurts him by saying that they are both freaks and will never be accepted. Kaa tells Mowgli that the whole jungle has been watching him and that one day he will fight and kill for the jungle. When leader Akela misses a kill on a hunt, he has to fight all challengers for leadership of the pack. Seeing that Akela is being injured, Mowgli uses a burning torch to break up the challenges and is told he has brought great shame on the pack and Akela. He’s told to leave. He goes to the village where he is knocked out and put in a cage!

Mowgli looks at the village of Men belowMowgli looks at the village of Men belowCourtesy of Netflix

Outsider

The village kids throw rocks at Mowgli and a white hunter called Lockwood (Matthew Rhys) gradually is kind to him. Bagheera visits at night telling Mowgli he must stay with the humans. He must stop fighting them and gain their trust. Finally, Lockwood opens the cage. He teaches the boy to use a knife to hunt and cut his food…also to cook it rather than eating it raw. Village woman Messua (Freida Pinto) is kind to him, treating him like a son. Mowgli refuses to come back to the jungle when visited by a wolf brother who tells him that Shere Khan has taken over and wolves who still support Akela are driven to the edge of the jungle.

Tiger Shere Khan wants to eat MowgliTiger Shere Khan wants to eat MowgliCourtesy of Netflix

Awful Discovery and Final Decision

While Mowgli explores Lockwood’s hut, he makes a horrible, sad discovery and, shattered, he decides to kill the hunter or maybe the animals should do it starting with the elephant with one tusk. Will Mowgli enlist the animals to kill Lockwood? Will he stay with Men or return to the jungle to kill Shere Khan himself? Will Mowgli ever be accepted fully into the wolf pack?

Messua is kind to MowgliMessua is kind to MowgliCourtesy of Netflix

Wrapping Up

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is a beautifully shot, emotionally satisfying film with an exceptional performance by young Mowgli actor Rohan Chand. Famous voice actors for the animals are also excellent. The motion-capture, animated animals will be compared to the Disney versions in the 2016 film The Jungle Book but they mostly hold up well except some faces appear a little more “human” than those in the Disney film.

Mowgli hopes the elephant will kill the hunterMowgli hopes the elephant will kill the hunterCourtesy of Netflix

The story is semi-true to the Kipling novels and similar to the 2016 film but with quite a few major additions that are “darker” and evoke a lot of emotion. One scene is especially heart-breaking and might not be good for very young kids. The film becomes a bit repetitious in the middle as Mowgli constantly trains for “The Running” and might seem a bit slow for the attention spans of younger kids but the last “act” of the movie moves along quickly.

Andy Serkis directsAndy Serkis directsCourtesy of Netflix

Famous motion capture actor Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes films) directs the movie and also voices the bear Baloo. He does a great job, especially with emotional scenes. Even if you saw the 2016 Disney The Jungle Book, this version of Mowgli’s tale is different enough to merit a watch on Netflix. We go four stars.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Movie Review: 4

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Movie PosterMowgli: Legend of the Jungle Movie PosterCourtesy of Netflix

Watch Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle on Netflix now!

Express Your Opinion

Are you a fan of the story of Mowgli? How many versions of his story have you seen? Do you at “at one” with animals? Share your feelings with others with a comment below or write about them on your Kidzworld profile page.