Synopsis: An orphaned boy raised by animals in the jungle seizes his destiny while confronting a dangerous enemy – and his own human origins.
Review: Released through Netflix on Friday. Mowgli is a fresh take on ‘The Jungle Book’, which also happens to be directed by Andy Serkis and boasts a star-studded cast for its voice talent.
When Bagheera a black Panther finds a small baby man cub he takes it to the wolves in hopes that they will take it in and raise it as one of their own in order to protect it from Shere Khan, the menacing tiger that killed the childs parents and disobeys the rules of the jungle by hunting for sport and his own personal pleasure.
The man cub is named Mowgli and Bagheera and Baloo the bear combine and act as his mentors while the child figures out what world he belongs in, but the politics of the jungle and Shere Khan’s determination to taste Mowgli’s blood make his life that much harder.
Mowgli struggles to find his place in both the human world and that of the jungle and struggles with being different to everyone else. But he soon learns that being different isn’t necessarily a weakness.
The animation in this film is absolutely stunning. Sheer Khan is rendered to be extremely intimidating, which is timed by ten with a chilling vocal performance from Benedict Cumberbatch.
Every single animal in this film is beautifully animated and have characteristics that make each and every animal a unique character in its own right regardless of how much screen time they get. The fight sequence where Bagheera and Baloo disagree over Mowgli’s fate is nicely done and really convincing, but it is also the jungle backgrounds that have you in awe and completely envelope you into the world.
The sequence where Mowgli asks the python Kaa why she saved him is both hypnotic and beautiful to watch. I loved how Mowgli saw a series of reflections in her scales as he became more and more mesmerized by her slithery demeanor.
Rohan Chand puts in a fantastic performance as Mowgli and wins you over right away with both the impetuousness and curiosity and the need to find his place. His scenes with Baloo and Bagheera make for the bulk of his speaking scenes, but it is the none verbal acting when he sees the cruelty of the human hunter, which showed a lot of maturity for such a young actor to handle.
It goes without saying that Benedict Cumberbatch literally steals every scene with a vocal performance that provided a compelling and calculatingly evil presence for Sheer Khan.
While somewhat more subtle and seductive was Cate Blanchett’s performance as Kaa because you are never quite certain whose side the snake is on. Especially given that the snake has often been sold as a manipulative villain with its own agenda in other interpretations.
I went into this film with somewhat mixed expectations having seen a few different versions of Jungle Book from Disney. But went away from the film feeling totally entertained. The characters were a little edgier than the Disney interpretations, but not in a bad way. This is a more adult version of the story.
The acting performances combined with some wonderful CGI animation and a fabulous soundtrack made this film an absolute pleasure to watch.
Hopefully, Netflix will do more animated content in the years to come. Because this was a fantastic watch.
- Incidental Music10