A Netflix Original directed by Andy Serkis and based on the Disney movie The Jungle Book, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle takes a darker and less comedic approach to the classic story. Once the audience catches a glimpse of the first scene in which the tiger Shere Khan kills Mowgli’s parents (although the deaths are off screen), it becomes apparent that this won’t be as child friendly as the previous two renditions of the story of Mowgli.
Unfortunately for this film, it was dealt considerable bad luck when Disney released a CGI remake of The Jungle Book only a couple years before this one was released, both with almost the exact same concept. It turns out that Mowgli began production before The Jungle Book remake, but the Andy Serkis film ultimately doesn’t stand up to the Disney remake. This is from a combination of inferior visuals, less compelling of a story, and appeal to a narrower audience given its PG-13 rating.
Despite the ill-fated timing of the film, it’s still somewhat of a mess in terms of storytelling. First of all, the story is about Mowgli choosing between staying in the jungle where he was raised, or going to live with humans, where he belongs. However, this decision seems utterly ridiculous as Mowgli is constantly being stalked by the vicious Shere Khan throughout the movie, so the only logical thing for him to do is to seek refuge with the humans. On top of this, both the human and animal societies are portrayed as barbaric and unjust, making the audience feel disconsolate at either of the choices the main character could make, as it becomes clear that Mowgli doesn’t belong in either of the societies. Another plot blunder (yes, there are more), is the “Law of the Jungle” imposed by the wolves. It’s supposed to be the code that all animals in the jungle follow, but it ends up being a plot device that the writers use to lazily add conflict to the story.
Arguably the only redeeming element of the movie is the jungle itself. It’s absolutely stunning to view, bringing beauty to every shot. The world of the movie is teeming with vibrance, life, and complexity, becoming a character of its own accord. I would even go so far as to say that it upstages the actual characters in the film.
Overall, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle was undeniably dealt a bad hand timing-wise, yet it still yields a dull and muddled story that’s too violent to be appeal to kids and too monotonous to appeal to adults. Although the movie is visually compelling, this doesn’t make up for the uninspired story and characters. Ultimately, you’d be better off watching Disney’s 2016 rendition of the story.