Andy Serkis’ adaptation of All the Mowgli Stories aims for a dark tone of the well-known story but falls in an awkward middle ground.
"Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle" follows a human child who is raised by wolves and struggles with his duality as a human and a member of the pack.
The king of performance capture, Andy Serkis, flexes his directorial skills and while the film is visually appealing, the tonal confusion and slow pacing doesn’t offer much.
The story is well-known thanks to the Disney adaptation and with this film, Serkis aims to have a more Mowgli focused angle. However, the film never finds a good rhythm and ends feeling as if it goes on forever.
The motion capture performances are stellar with the cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Serkis himself. And Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Shere Khan is terrifyingly amazing. However, since the film rests on the shoulders of Mowgli, played by Rohan Chand, it suffers great do to his limited acting skills. Child actors in general range from okay to cringe-worthy.
Chand tends to lack small nuances that Neel Sethi had in "The Jungle Book". Sethi was a joy to watch and delivered a truly captivating performance. Chand seems a bit ‘lost’ and lacks in charisma, which is crucial to the film.
The script doesn’t help either. Mowgli is unaware for the first third of the film that he is different from the other wolves, making it a bit hard to fathom since he can clearly see a difference in his reflection in the water. The animal characters are also far better written and more complex than Mowgli.
The visual effects get a thumbs up, and are stunning especially the chase scenes with Mowgli.
Overall, "Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’s" lack of tonal consistency which makes it too dark for kids and not dark enough for adults. Falling into this weird middle ground that makes it unclear as to who this film was made for.
"Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle" is currently streaming on Netflix.
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